Wednesday, February 27, 2013


I finished My "Peppers" last night!  Hooray!  I'm quite happy with how they turned out... I struggled with making the red center one laying down so you are looking down on it.  I think the key was both the shading and sewing directional-ly. By this I mean that I'm trying to capture the shape of the object, by sewing in the direction that the object naturally goes.

For instance, where there was a buldge in the pepper, I sewed around any bulbous protusion, which, combined with shading, helps give the illusion of depth. Another way of looking at directional sewing is to think of the way something grows or sewing with the grain of an item. For instance, if you want to portray an animal, it won't look very realistic if you make the hair going in an unnatural manner.  Similarly, petals, leaves, and plant stems look closer to life with a vertical grain and more cartoonish with horizontal filling.

Background before I hand appliquéd the trapunto peppers 
I also made a decision with the background of this piece.  If you're familiar with design theory, you'll recognize "repetition" and "unity" as two fundamental  design concepts. Many strong designs utilize repetition- whether they are visual art, writing or in a musical composition.  Repetition aows the viewer to feel more comfortable with the piece-as if the already know something about it, since they've seen (or heard) that part of the piece before. Repetition can also help unify a piece. Having too many loose ends that don't relate anywhere else in the work can be jarring and disquieting.

So, for my "Peppers" I used a background fabric which matches the background of my Tomatillo, but in a different color way.  I used the same pattern for the Freemotion quilting as I did on my Tomato. One of the lines of decorative stitch matches another in one of my pieces.

Why is this important? While each piece may be lovely and stand on its own, my plan is to put nine of these "Salsa" pieces together into a quilt. Although I'm doing similar techniques- Machine embroidered veges with decorative stitching and Freemotion quilting, if I'm not careful it will seem like it isn't unified.  Other ways I'm working to unify the peace and provide repetition include using the same font for the name of each of the vegetables or fruits, using an analagous color scheme (red, orange, yellow, green), and having my quilting and decorative stitching be more sharp angles rather than curves (I think of this being more like Mayan or Aztec patterning.

On to my Avocados....!

You Might Also Be Interested in:

New 5 x 7 
Challenge Pieces
5 x 7 Week 3- 
The Start of Salsa
Developing the 
Creative Habit

Check out these other Great Blogs!
For great ideas on freemotion quilting, check out Leah Day's FreeMotion Quilting Project

To find some wonderful quilting projects, visit Freshly Pieced

Confessions of a Fabric Addict 

Art Quilts by Nina Marie Sayre

Stitch by Stitch by Marelize Ries

Monday, February 25, 2013

Outdoor Fiber Art & Call for Entry

Artist Hanny Couwenhoven
Back in the Jun/July 2012 issue of Quilting Arts Magazine, a fiberart group named "Windkracht 10" was featured in an article by Lynn Krawczyk.  Based in the Netherlands, these Dutch fiber artists choose to display their work outdoors.  While creating work that will be exposed to the elements may be challenging, there are certain advantages, as well.  If the artist takes into consideration the colors of the surroundings when making their piece, the artwork can be remarkably striking.

As an example, this piece by Hanny Couwenhoven reflects the rainbow of colors as well as the sky.  The sheer fabrics allow the background to be seen, as well as creating more color variations as the transparencies of different fabrics are layered on each other.

Artist Kun Speelman
Another factor that needs to be considered is the size of the piece.  When you're exhibiting outdoors, size matters!  You need to consider the amount of space in which your piece will be displayed.  If it is a small enclosed garden space, the scale of the piece can be much smaller than a piece that is out on an open plain.

Of course, any type of fiber that is exposed to the elements needs to be constructed with the understanding that wind, storms, rain, and sun will all take their toll.  You need to check the weather patterns for the location you'll be exhibiting and make sure to construct your piece with materials and techniques that will stand up stronger to the environment.  For instance, seams may be sewn double and "fabrics" might include tyvek, canvas, or nautical materials.

Artist Dery Timmer
Another Northwest treasure in the Fiber Art world, Mandy Greer makes incredible installation pieces using crocheted and sewn fabric.  If you'd like to see one of her performance art/installations click here.


Artist  Hannelieke van de Beek
For any of you who are Washington State Artists, I have a new opportunity for you to break into outdoor exhibitions.  In conjunction with Washington State’s Contemporary QuiltArt Association’s exhibition “Salsa!” in the Mighty Tieton Warehouse Gallery, Tieton Arts and Humanities invite all Washington state artists to enter in a juried exhibition of outdoor fiber art.  Artwork may include (but is not limited to) yarn-bombing, banners, flags, and soft sculpture.

The exhibit "Salsa in the Sun" has an entry deadline of April 7 and will open on Saturday May 25.  The entry form and information is available online at:

Artist Elsvan Baarle
Windkracht 10 Members Featured in this post:

Hanny Couwenhoven
Kun Speelman
Derry Timmer
Hannelieke van de Beek
Elsvan Baarle

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A Day of Art BAM High Fiber Diet Trees as Fiber Art

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Peppers and Avocado

Isolation.  It can be really nice to have time to yourself… time to do your projects, eat on your own schedule, stay up as late as you want.  But this weekend was more than time to myself.  Sometime on Friday, a critical piece of equipment broke down cutting off all Internet, email, WiFi and our home and business phones.  Although I still have my cell phone and texting, it’s amazing to find out how connected we are through these other forms of communication.  With my husband and sons away for the weekend, it was more like solitary confinement than a peaceful weekend to myself! Luckily, our computer expert was able to find the piece of equipment and get it installed this afternoon, so we're back live!

Start of Red pepper- showing underlaying stitches
The good news is that I had little distraction, so I’ve made a lot of progress on my Salsa series.  First, I started with peppers:

This red pepper proved to be particularly challenging, since the perspective.  I started with making the stem, and then doing the darker parts as underlayment.  I made circular shapes, to try to get the sense of the knobby bumps on the top of the pepper.

I think it came out pretty well and like the effect of adding a little violet for the shadows.  

With the orange pepper, I again started with the stem and the darker shading.  As you can see, most of the stitching goes in the direction of the shape of the vegetable.  With the underlayment, I will go across the grain, but most of this stitching will be beneath other layers of color, so it won’t show the cross-grain stitches.  

I then start building layers of color up.  I generally go from dark to light, as the dark is in the shadows, so further away from the viewer and light is closer.

Here are the three finished peppers.  I need to start working on doing the freemotion quilting and decorative stitching on the background today.

Next, I started on avocados.  Same, process, although it is challenging to think through how to be able to show the indentation of the place where the avocado seed was versus the other half with the seed jutting out. The rough texture of the outer skin was a little worrisome as well. 

I started with going over the darkest part in a thick black cotton thread.  I then added layers of dark grays and some dark muted green (basically a green that has dark gray added to it.)

I added the darkest yellow to the texture of the fruit, making it heaviest in the area that the pit was removed.  Then I layered about 10 different shades of light yellow and light green to make the fruit.

The final part of the process was to do the avocado pit or seed and the little area where the stem comes out.  
Because of how I layered the thread, both the pit areas are slightly stretched out, which will give a nice 3-D effect when I add trapunto.

I'll be looking over Leah Day's FreeMotion Quilting Project to find some interesting designs for the backgrounds of these two 5 x 7 Challenge pieces!

You May Also Be Interested In:

Cilantro- Si! 5 x 7 Week 3- 
The Start of Salsa
La Cebolla (Onion)

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

New 5 x 7 Challenge Pieces

We have some wonderful additions to the ongoing 5 x 7 Artist Challenge!

Janine, aka Rainbow Hare Quilts, of East Sussex UK: 

Fused Fabric Valentine by Janine
Janine has a wonderful post on her Rainbow Hare blog called "Do You Ever Get Quilter's Block?"    Not only does she describe making this wonderful fused fabric Valentine, she also links up to a Ted Talk by Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of "Eat, Pray, Love."  What a wonderful opportunity to hear someone who has made such a success in her creative life struggle with many of the same challenges we all do.  Thank-you, Janine, for sharing both your 5 x 7 pieces and Elizabeth Gilbert's exposé on creative genius.
Detail of Rainbow Hare's Fused Fabric Valentine

Janine discusses her process for the little house piece to the left in her blog post "Not What I Meant At All".  I think it's really helpful to hear how people start and what they go through to get to a finished result.

Next, Hilda of Hilda's Hideout is working with found objects.  Here are two of her newest pieces- I see a series in the making!

Lise, aka French Canadian 23, has been working with trees for her 5 x 7 pieces:

Lise describes her process for making Birch Trees... I love how the paper-pieced background is so muted but totally gives you the sense of the tree branches, as well as the graphic fabrics which work well for different bark!

Oak Tree in Fall by Lise- FrenchCanadian23
Although not yet complete, Lise has her second tree quilt well under way.  I'm looking forward to seeing it when she finishes the thread painting that she's planning.

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Cilantro - Si!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Cilantro - Si!

I made it back home from San Francisco late last night and finished up my 5 x7 "Cilantro" piece today.  
"Cilantro" by Christina Fairley Erickson
Freehand machine embroidery, decorative stitching and freemotion quilted
Since I already had the machine embroidered cilantro done, all I had to finish up was the background.  For this, I started with stitching the name "Cilantro" as I had with my other Salsa pieces.  To do this, I printed the word on a piece of paper-piecing paper in a funky font and then just stitched the letters out and tore away to paper.  Then I chose a few different decorative stitches to start with.

Cilantro freemotion quilting design
Next, I wanted to fill the middle space with freemotion quilting.  I drew out this design which I based on cilantro leaves.  I like how it looks and was ready to try it out.

However, I then lay my machine embroidered Cilantro on top of the drawn design.  I don't think it was complementary at all!  I'd like to try the leaf pattern somewhere, but this wasn't the right place.
Cilantro freemotion quilting design with cilantro machine
embroidery on top

Background getting filled in with cubing

So, I decided to check my favorite resource, Leah Day's FreeMotion Quilting Project, and thought that I could slightly modify her "Cubing" design.  I worked the design at an angle or on-point, as well as putting in a lot of rectangular shapes, rather than mostly all squares.

After that, I only had to applique down my machine embroidery.  Due to the thin stalks and ruffled edges of the cilantro, I decided to cut the embroidery along the edge, color in the edges and machine applique it (rather than hand-applique as I did on the others.)  I did put a minimal amount of trapunto batting under a few leaves and left some of the edges loose, so it has a more 3-D effect.

You May Also Be Interested In:

Recognizing Our Limits 
and Not Giving Up
A Sprig Away La Cebolla (Onion)

Also Check Out These Great Blogs!

Confessions of a Fabric Addict

Nina Marie Sayre- Art Quilts

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Freshly Pieced

The Needle and Thread Network

Monday, February 18, 2013

Trees as Fiber Art

"Forest" by Leslie Richmond
Mixed fiber fabric, heat reactive base, metal patinas, acrylic paint, dyes
"Forest" detail by Leslie Richmond
Lesley Richmond of Vancouver B.C. created this fantastic piece of mixed fiber fabric, a heat reactive base, metal patinas, acrylic paint, and dyes.  She starts with taking photos of trees, focusing on the branch structure.  From there, she uses the images to make a silk screen and prints the trees on a silk-cotton fabric with a heat-reactive base.  When heated, the heat-reactive base both expands and becomes dimensional.  
"Forest" detail by Leslie Richmond
She then removes the remaining cellulose/cotton fibers with a mild acid.  What remains is the image and the silk-threads in the background.  The final processes are stiffening the structures of the trees and painting them with acrylic paints and metallic patinas.  

I think this piece may have been my favorite in the whole exhibition.  I really recommend looking at Lesley's website. Her work is exceptional!

"Forest" detail by Leslie Richmonds
"Untitled" by Scott Fife
Archival cardboard, drywall screws, and glue
I had the pleasure of sitting next to one of the artists during the BAM High Fiber Diet Symposium, Scott Fife.    Scott's sculpture is large... life sized.  Loving our Northwest beaches, it's amazing to encounter a humongous piece of driftwood leaning up against the wall of a formal art museum.

Actually, this sculpture is probably 12-15 feet in height.  It's made from archival cardboard, drywall screws and glue.  He chose to use cardboard as a way to honor and reclaim the product that originally came from a tree.  Scott's recent work is particularly interested in the mortality of trees.

For the last year, I've been learning to make driftwood sculpture.  The type of sculpture I'm making is based of the Luron method... a way to take an interesting piece of driftwood (you need to choose a piece with interesting lines, curves, and grain) and the remove the outer dead layers of wood to find the inner heartwood.

Below the detailed images of Scott's driftwood log are a few of the beautiful pieces made by members of the the Northwest Driftwood Artists (and two of my teachers).

"Untitled" detail by Scott Fife
Tree knot
"Untitled" detail by Scott Fife
Tree knot 

"Tumbleweed" by Dave Sao

"Wildfire" by Dave Sao

"Emerging Swan" by Tuttie Peet
"Safe Haven" by Jo Marsh
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BAM High Fiber DietBeachpirationDriftwood Art

For great ideas on freemotion quilting, check out Leah Day's FreeMotion Quilting Project