Tuesday, December 13, 2011


This month's theme is "SILK." We all love the luminous quality of silk and the iridescence of silks that are woven with 2 colors.

Silken Landscape: Melanie
I printed miniature landscapes on silk organza and placed them on pieces of colored silk. These were then placed on a collaged background of hand-dyed and purchased silk pieces in colors of the fields and greenery. I used Shiva Paint sticks to create copper and gold swirls on the pale green silk. The quilting was done with silk thread. Sections are quilted differently, inspired by the silk behind the quilting.

Landscape: Joan
Lately I have been enjoying making landscape inspired collages. Working with silk made this one even more fun than usual. I used satin stitching in a varying width across the top section to add texture. The second layer is from a decadent fabric I purchased at MOOD in NYC. The 3rd layer is upholstery fabric - the "wrong" side, and the bottom layer, an iridescent silk. I have been buying frames when I see them on sale and decided to try some of my art quilts in art frames.

Contemplating Klee: Joan

In this piece, I printed a photo on silk of a painting by Paul Klee. My printer is not quite working correctly so the right side of the piece is actually printed on paper that I applied to the fabric with Textile Medium. I think it added a nice variation on texture and color. The lines are quilted in black, then echo quilted again in yellow, emulating the yellow surrounding the black lines in the actual painting. I used another frame - this time a clear plexiglass, to display this piece.

Silk Encaustic Collage: Mary
I was inspired by the Lines & Curves quilt Cathey was working on last month. I stated with creamy colored silk. I spread some aluminum foil on a warming tray, rubbed it with some crayons and let the crayon wax melt on the foil. I then used the melty, waxy foil as a monoprint and pressed the fabric into it. To remove the wax, I ironed the fabric between layers of printer paper till the wax came off on to the paper, leaving only color behind. I decided I liked the back side of the resulting fabric best and worked on that side to finish the piece. I made French seamed pleats, top stitched them and then couched some sparkly yarn across horizontally. I decided to call this technique "Encaustic Textile Monoprinting."

Tree Skirt: Cathey
In keeping with the season I decided to make a tree skirt for my miniature "snow & ice" themed tree. I started with white silk, used glue and foil to create the silvery snowflakes, then put some Ricky Times "Razzle Dazzle" thread in my bobbin and stitched around the edge. I finished up with beading to set off the sparkly thread.

Pussy Willow Silk Collage: Marcia
I did not have a chance to finish this piece yet but my idea was to use some of may favorite silk remnants in a collaged composition. I think the pattern on the larger piece on the right looks like pussy willows. I especially like the frayed edges. The texture and color of silk when it frays is luscious.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


Our theme for November was "lines."

Melanie: In October Carol Anne Grotrian taught an indigo dyeing & shibori class at our quilt guild (NBQA). I decided to use pieces from that workshop for my project. In the piece I used "ice dyed" fabric overdyed using pole wraped and folded shibori techniques, 2 other shibori/indigo cottons, a piece of dyed & stamped linen, orange, white and navy silk, and finally, I used some of the string used to tie up the shibori in the dyeing process.  

Mary: This is a "Line Study," using metallic thread, couched yarns, antique buttons, and reverse applique. Hard to see in this photo, but there are also "pintucked" lines within the black fabric.

Marcia: I LOVE silk. I have recently acquired quite a few pieces and decided to use them in this project. All the "lines" are made from pieces of silk. Many of them frayed quite a bit in the process because I did not stabilize or fuse them. That made them difficult to work with but in the end, the effect of the frayed edges on the piece is quite nice.

Cathey: I have just returned from "A Quilters Gathering," in New Hampshire where I took 2 classes from Lyric Kinard. One of the many techniques we tried was foiling and using fusible thread. Based on that, I experimented by using fusible thread with glitter. The result is my piece this month. It incorporates batik fabric, fusible thread, glitter, and couched glittery cording.
I also took a class with Louisa Smith. That class was Lines and Curves. Here is my project from that class in progress:

Linda: I have sort of killed "2 birds with one stone" here. I am trying to get Christmas project finished. I made this table runner from a great border fabric. It is quite linear so it sort of fits the bill for "lines."

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Our theme for October was "Curves."

Marcia: I brought 2 projects. The first one is from an NBQA "Block of the Month" from last year called "Twisted Sash." I added yo yo's to it, trying to match color and curve in the placement of the yo yo's.
My second project is very "out of the box" for me. It is free form and not bound by borders or binding. It is asymmetrical with curved piecing. I couched some yarns and let them flow off the piece. Even the fabrics have curves in them.

Joan: I made more of my "stitched fabric," this time using curvy piecing. The overstitching blends the fabrics into a cohesive piece. I used the new fabric to create a pouch for my new i-pad. For the back of the pouch, I used the luscious velvety "alligator" pattern fabric I purchased at MOOD in NYC.
Cathey: I decided to interpret Van Gough's "Starry Night." The piece is a collage with raw edge applique, angelina fibers, ribbons, organza, upholstery fabric, batiks,and tafeta. I used small dots of white glue to hold some of the pieces in place, then quilted it like crazy.

Melanie: My piece was inspired from "Quilted Symphony," by Gloria Loughman. The piece contains silks and my hand dyed cottons along with commercial batiks. My new favorite thing is incorporating a little silk in with the cottons.
Hope: I had lots of glitzy fabric I wanted to use in a piece. I decided to set it against a velvet backround. I chose a deep blue velvet instead of black and used reverse applique to create each "window," then placed a crystal inside each teardrop. I added some multicolored ribbon to set off the rows of opulent colors.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Seed Packet

After taking a couple of summer months off, we are back! We are all members of the Narragansett Bay Quilters' Association. The guild summer challenge was "Seed Packets" so we decided to kill 2 birds with one stone and do that project.

Marcia: Seeds under Organza
I decided to use real seeds in my project. I used 9 types of seeds, set them on a colored background then overlayed organza. I am sewing little decorative pockets around each seed group. I did not quite finish so you see pins in the organza. I like the way the glass heads of the pins set off each "packet" so I think I will use some seed beads in the finished project to get the same effect.

Linda: New York Village
I had a very busy summer and did not get a chance to make my seed packet. I did however, take a class, "Happy Villages," from Karen Eckmeier. This was a fun workshop. The "location" of your village is very much influenced by the fabrics chosen. I wanted a New York village so I chose predominately black and white with a little gold for New York glitz.

Cathey: New England Seeds
I was inspired by the falling leaves of autumn. The leaves/acorns etc. are the seeds of trees to come. To simulate the fall colors, I used a fall colored background, then used a gold paintstick on black for the gold background leaves and finally, colored some Lutradur for the foreground leaf.

Joan: Tuscan Village and Flower Seed Packet
I also took the "Happy Villages" workshop. My interpretation is from some of my travel photographs. I chose colors and a layout reminiscent of sunny Tuscany. A couple of the buildings have the names of the actual structures. Also included is a clock tower, steps and domes so prevalent in Italy.
For the Seed Packet project, I took this photograph at the raspberry farm in Windham, CT. I altered it in my computer, using the "posterize" feature to add interest. I then printed it on to white "pfd" fabric in 4 panels which I sewed together. I added printed lettering on more pdf. then quilted the entire piece.It won First Place in the NBQA Summer Challenge!

Hope: I had a lot of fun with this one. Anyone from the sixties will recognize this plant. I had fun tracking down what its flowers looked like. :) I beaded the center blossom and all along the inside of the binding.

Melanie: Corn Seeds
I love to garden but people who know me, know I am more about the vegetables than flowers so of course I chose a veggie: Corn. I searched images on the web for inspiration and ended up with this interpretation of an old fashioned seed packet. I used colored pencils to create the drawing on white pfd fabric. I then used textile medium to set the pencil coloring so it would be permanent and washable. I "trapunto-ed" the ear of corn and free motion quilted the entire piece. I used a "pillowcase" finishing because I thought it would make the project look more like a seed packet than using a binding.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Tag, You’re It!

For our May challenge, we decided to do the Quilting Arts Magazine Reader Challenge titled, "Tag You're It." The requirement was to make a text based quilt,  8.5 X 11 inches in vertical (portrait) orientation.

Joan: "Mom's Advice"
 At first I really struggled with this challenge. Right away I had an idea but executing that idea in design was so difficult. At times, I thought a "real artist" would probably abandon an idea that did not work and move on to something else. I, however, could not let it go. Finally, when I simplified the idea it came together.

In July of 2007, my two sons went to Europe. While there, they decided to participate in the "Running of the Bulls" in Pamplona, Spain- not something a mother wants advance notice about. We had a little email exchange about the idea...I expressed my words of wisdom...such as they were and in the end, they did the run. My quilt includes an excerpt of my advice to them in our email exchange, a picture of my boys in the appropriate outfits, and a representation of the "bull run route" culminating in the "bulls eye/bull ring" at Plaza de Toros.

I started with a photo of my sons which I printed onto fabric. The photo is embellished with red silk and some stitching to make the photo pop. I also printed the excerpt from the email message onto fabric.  The  bulls eye arena was free motion stitched and a likeness of a map of the streets of Pamplona was used as the inspiration for quilting the piece

Hope: Like Joan, I loved the idea of this challenge, had an idea of what I wanted to represent but had a hard time creating the design. When I finally completed it, my family made comments like, "well, it's not pretty," and "I don't think it is an art quilt; maybe a novelty quilt." You be the judge.

My husband has had some serious health issues. In dealing with them as a couple, it has been helpful to remember all the good things in our life. As for the current challenges, well, "LIFE is what it is." We need to deal with the hard parts without losing sight of the good stuff.

My design is set up as a scrabble board. I made the "tiles" with fabric fused to felt, topped with a sparkly organza. In addition to the message on the tiles, the board squares have messages of all the good things in our life.

Melanie: The "Tag You're It" title of the challenge brought to mind the unique signatures ("tags") graffiti artists use to sign their work. I decided to use my initials in a way that communicates one of my passions (in addition to quilting of course). I love music and play the mountain dulcimer. My quilt uses my initials with a mountain dulcimer making up one leg of the "M." The letters are filled with musical terms.The background is a piece of my hand dyed fabric with pale notes printed on it.

I also did a second piece. This one is based on love letters between my Italian paternal grandparents. The letters are from 1920-1921 before they were married. My grandmother had immigrated to Rhode Island with her family and my grandfather was serving in the Italian army. The wrote in the English they had learned in school so their love letters could not be read by their parents. When he was discharged, he came to RI, they married, had 5 children and a long an happy marriage.

The background of my quilt includes excerpts from some of their letters and my grandfather's discharge certificate from the Italian army. I especially like the 1920's stationery with the woman in the dress of the period. The circles are meant to represent their wedding rings. It is hard to see in the photo, but the rings contain quotes from their letters.

Cathey: At the time we received this challenge, I was scheduled for a breast biopsy. The words constantly running through my head were, "Please be benign." I decided to base my quilt on that. The lettering is on painted Lutradur. The woman is me. I am known for my goofy earrings so I gave her one too. My hair is made from strips of black fabric and the "lump" is painted tyvek. I did make myself a bit thinner but was honest about my arms. :) The piece has binding on 3 sides only to accentuate the figure extending beyond the page.

PS - the lump was indeed benign.

Marcia: My quilt is built around 1 word: LOVE. I hand lettered LOVE in 29 languages. I also quilted "LOVE." I used Jelly Roll pens to do the lettering They are great fun to use.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Mystery Exchange

For this month's challenge, we were each given a small, brown paper bag with a few items from another member. Our challenge was to use some or all of the items in a piece.

Linda Gardner: My items were Lutradur, green Mulberry bark, and a small spritzer of frosted, glittery spray. I decided to make a journal book cover. I could not think of how to use the Mulberry bark so I eliminated that. The background of the piece is from a photo printed on fabric. To enhance the iron gate, I satin stitched it with black thread, varying the stitch width. Two of the butterflies are made of Lutradur, sprayed with the glitzy spray. The third one is made from embroidered silk.

Joan Johnson: I was given a piece of organza that had been painted with Shiva Paintsticks. I am not sure if the shape is a giant comma, an embryo, tadpole or what but it was interesting. I scanned the painted organza, then printed it on cotton and some glittery organza. Using the original piece and the 2 new ones, I cut out some of the shapes because I like the negative black space around them. Some of the shapes at the edges of the fabric were incomplete. I used stitching to complete those shapes.

Marcia Kilpatrick: I received a handpieced, orphaned grandma's flower garden block, a delicate hanky, and a strip of decorative trim. I admit, I was stumped for a while. I folded the hanky then added the trim over one corner. I placed the block above those items and added a lot of beading. On point, the piece looks like a flower basket.

Melanie Johnston: I received colored bead wire and a handmade paper bead. The week before, I took a class with Christine Fries-Ureel and learned to make dimentional leaves, butterflies, bugs etc. I decided to incorporate the wire into a piece using the techniques I used in Christine's class. The butterfly, leaves and dragonflies are made using super solvy and free motion stitching. The flower is raw edge applique. The stem is yarn, sewn with a close zig zag back and front 3 times with 3 different threads. It makes a cool cord that can be used for a variety of things. I used the bead as a little bud. There is wire sticking out of the bead, from the main flower and as the butterfly antennae.

Cathey LaBonte: I received a piece of Asian style fabric in colors that I do not normally use. I painted the fans on the fabric with Jaquard Lumiere paints in earth tone metallics. I then cut the fabric into strips and added some batiks. I fused all the fabric to batting and did a lot of overstitching in a grid pattern. I used this "new fabric" to make a book cover for my journal. On the front, I used Jones Tones puffy paint to make a tree trunk and branches. After it dried, I painted it with browns and use some pearl-ex pigment to give it a little glitz. I added leaves made of Lutradur. Finally, I used a very cool button and a piece of ribbon to make a closure.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


Pat: For my new book, I added color to some of my Zentangle Quilts. This is an example.


Joan: Over the month, I had lots of ideas about what I wanted to make. I was thinking about stamping, taking photos etc, Then I found a quote that reminded me that what I want from this art quilt group is to be more free; less structured and concerned about "rules." I used the quote as my inspiration, printed it on fabric and added it to my piece. The background is a piece of screen printed home-dec fabric I got a few years ago. It was fun to "thread paint" over the blue/shadow trees. For the leaves, I manipulated photos in my photo editing software, changing the color with the"invert" option. I used the resulting colors to select batik fabrics. I fussy cut the leaves from the batiks using dye variations to show the shading evident in the photograph. I then thread painted the leaf veins.

I have also been making little bags out of fabric I created by putting strips of fabric  together then "thread painting" over them to integrate them.
Linda: I used a combination of purchased silk leaves and embroidery. The background is made from leftovers from an charity quilt. The piece is quilted with metallics. I thought with all those leaves, there should be a branch or two but could not quite make that work. In the end, I added brown borders on 2 sides to represent the tree from which the leaves are falling.
Cathey: I thought this project would be a great opportunity to used several different techniques for the same leaf shape. I made a freezer paper leaf stencil then used several techniques. The first leaf is "foiled." The foil glue was put down using the stencil, then the foil applied over it. The next leaf is made with Lutradur colored with Shiva paintsticks cut into the shape and appliqued onto the fabric. The 3rd leaf was made using 2 layers of "puffy paint." When dry and puffed, I painted it with green Jaquard luminere paint. The next leaf was thread painted and the last leaf was made from Angelina fibers.When I fused the green Angelina fibers to the fusible web, it turned blue! So I had to overpaint it to bring it back to nature.

Melanie: I had ideas for 3 or 4 pieces but ended up scrambling to finish 1 piece but managed to get 3 techniques in it. As Cathey did, I used Lutradur to make leaves. The stuff is lots of fun to work with and takes color very well. I colored the Lutradur, then put it through the printer to print the leaves. The leaves were then cut out and appliqued to the piece with variegated thread to create the veins. On another section of the piece, I used a piece of leaf sunprinted fabric that I made last summer. The lower section is leaves printed on sparkly organza over celery green satin. I added some tree silhouettes because with all those leaves......
Hope: I like my pieces to tell a story. For this challenge I was inspired by a Desert Rose plant I bought a Logee's last year. It was doing well when, by mistake, I fertilized it. Desert Roses do not like to be fertilized. It dropped all its leaves and looked quite pathetic. I was so sad but decided to see if I could nurse it back to health. All winter I took special care of it and a few days ago, a single leaf appeared! That leaf made me very happy and I decided to memorialize it on this quilt.

Marcia: After chickens, plants are my next favorite things. The leaf theme fit right in. When I started to think about this project, I doodled around a little with "leaves." That lead to the small quilt with leaf shapes quilted into it and the letters of the word "leaves" embroidered and beaded in different configurations.  I then used Sue Pelland's "leaves galore" ruler/template to create the larger, White Ash leaf piece. You might think it is many leaves but it is one single leaf called a compound leaf with leaflets on a stalk. I used beads (of course) for the leaf veins and found some great leaf fabric for the border.  If I had time, I would make one of these for all the tree species I know and love!