Tuesday, December 10, 2013

December Free Style

For December we decided not to select a specific theme.

Hope: I took a class with Jo Diggs at The Gathering in November. I started this project there and was glad to have this month to finish it. The background is a piece of my ice dyed fabric. The design is satin stitch appliqued. I decided to frame this piece and the group really liked the result.

Pat: I have been working on 3 projects. One is based on a photo I took in my driveway of a luna moth. It is not quite finished. I will post the photo once it is finished.

The second project is a baby quilt I designed and sewed for my *almost here* new grandson. It as a nautical theme. That has been shipped off so again, no picture.

My third project is a new zen mandala. The inspiration for this one was a metal sun I saw on the Sunday Good Morning Show. It includes a "tangle motif" I designed.

Joan: As you know I love silk. This month was an opportunity for me to use some of it with a simple design that lets the dupioni silk take a leading role. The silk is combination of orange and gold. I thread painted the tree in black.

Marcia: I made 2 pieces this month. For the first piece I used a piece of hand marbled fabric I purchased a while back and have been wanting to use. I have a large collection of buttons and beads and used a lot of them in this project to embellish the fabric 

In my second project, I used a piece of clamp resist shibori fabric I made. I love circles and kept the circle theme by using yo yo' s, antique buttons in my collection and round silver pieces from the jewelry section of Michaels. 

Melanie: I love modern art. Last year I went to the play, "Red." That play is based on the life and works of Mark Rothko. Since then I have been fascinated by him and some of his contemporaries. Rothko  is an American painter identified as an Abstract Expressionist.  With Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning, he is one of the most famous postwar American artists. I am particularly drawn to his use of symmetrical rectangular blocks of two to three opposing or contrasting, yet complementary, colors. I think this style works well expressed in fabric. The fabric in this piece was made using a soy wax batik process, then overpainting with thickened dye.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Inspired by a Photo

This month our project was to be inspired by a photograph.

Cathey: "Saybrook Sailboat"  
I took a photo of a single sailboat out in the water in Saybrook. It looked so beautiful as it sailed along solitary on the water. In this piece, I used crinkled 2 color silk for the water. It has a great shimmer and wavy quality just like water. For the sky, I used a piece of ice dyed fabric which I overdyed with indigo using a pole shibori technique. The boat is made of white silk over layers of timtex and batting to give it lots of dimension.

Sheila Rae: "Itchycoo Park"
I stated with a piece of my son's old, patched jeans. I added buttons and sequins by hand. The piece has snippets of fabric scraps including some with stars that glow in the dark and some frayed luminescent polyester. These scraps are an extension of the "patched" jeans/life theme.
For the centerpiece, I took and old, round mirror, sanded the finish off the back and mod-podged a photo of a fairy from a jacket I made a while back.

Joan: "Cooking Memories"
This is a retro piece I made just for me. The theme is cooking memories from my childhood. We had a set of pink pyrex bowls which I loved (even after my sister broke the largest one). I printed onto fabric, an old, stained recipe of my mom's (in her ow hand) for pumpkin bread. The wooden spoon and aluminum measuring spoons were always present in our kitchen. I still have my mom's metal recipe box and took a picture for this project. And who didn't cook with Betty Crocker? The edition you have dates you. This was the edition in our house.
Somewhere I have a picture of my mom in her apron. When I find it, I will print that on fabric and add it.
Retro pink rick rack was the perfect border embellishment.

Marcia: With permission, I took a photo of a photo at a recent show I attended and my piece is based on that photo. It is a landscape with unusual coloring. I used mostly silk and fabric samples. Some of the edges are fraying which adds interest.

Melanie: "Like Walking in the Rain"
This piece is inspired by several pictures and paintings I have seen of a single figure in the rain under an umbrella. I masked off the area for the figure with freezer paper, then painted the "rain" with thickened dye. I then thread sketched in the figure and used some silver beads for a few streams of rain drops

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

8 1/2 X 11

Sheila Rae chose the "prompt" for this challenge. Size was the only constraint. The piece was to be 8.5 by 11 inches - more or less :).

Joan- I had several pieces I marbled a while back and have been waiting for the right project to use them. I chose this small piece and added a few pieces of red silk for interest and then spent the day stitching. It was so relaxing to just focus on stitching with some interesting threads and letting the marbled pattern guide me.

Melanie - Like Joan, I wanted to use some of the fabric I had previously created. I chose a small piece of dyed fabric and "thread sketched" tulips in a glass jar. I then white washed the background with dilute white fabric paint to make the flowers and vase stand out a bit more. Finally, I added some thread work to enhance the colors in the tulips.

Sheila Rae - For this challenge, I started with this quote: "Time is the fire we all burn in. Some quickly, some slowly, some unevenly and some completely."  I love the effect of burned fabric  I asked a smoker to burn some holes in the muslin with his cigarette and I used his lighter to burn the edges. The background is a piece of "found" fabric that I think was someone's surface design experiment that they thought unsuccessful. The buttons represent the moon rising. I placed black organza over the top of the entire piece to enhance the overall smokey look.

Cathey - I was not able to do the specific challenge this month but I did finish my Tsunami piece. It is fabric collage based on techniques taught by Pam Mostek. It is quite a large piece and has great visual impact. The yellow background was my 4th attempt! I actually had 3 other colors sewn on and removed before deciding on the yellow. I used a wide variety of commercial fabrics from cotton, silk and organza as well as pieces I marbled and ice dyed. It also has some Angelina fiber, tyvek and bubbled poly. Really, a bit of everything! This piece along with 2 of my other pieces, has been accepted into the Quilters Gathering show for this November.

Marcia - I finally finished my piece from the last challenge. That challenge was "Inspired by nature" and my piece is a representation of a rare plant, "columnea arguta." 
For this month, I used lots of silk along with some of my hand dyed fabric and a variety of beads to make a landscape inspired piece. The gold strip represents the horizon. 

Hope - I was intrigued by the "rusting" Joan has been doing and wanted to give it a try. I found a rusty bird piece and used that. The impression turned out great and very true to the object. The dots inside the bird are all part of the rusting process - a great effect. I used quilting to enhance the design and found a perfect fabric for the border. 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

She Blinded Me With Science

Sheila Rae chose our theme for this month. "She Blinded Me With Science" is a "one hit wonder" song by British musician Thomas Dolby released in 1982. Those of us of a certain age remember it well. 

Sheila Rae: "Bubble Chamber"
A bubble chamber is a vessel filled with a superheated transparent liquid (most often liquid hydrogen) used to detect electrically charged particles moving through it. I love science and quantum mechanics. This piece is my interpretation of a bubble chamber. In the bubble chamber you never know what you are going to get and everything is connected.
This piece started with a large, old crazy quilt given to me. I added lots of hand stitching and a layer of pink tulle. Then the real fun began with the addition of all kinds of embellishment from sea horses to an old bubble wand. Lots to look at and hold the viewer's attention.
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Cathey: I actually made 2 pieces. This first piece is "Sunflower Trio"
The greenery in this piece is made from a heavy upholstery piece. The flower petals are cut free hand. As usual, I quilted the *!? out of it!

My second piece is a large leaf. I used various batiks and other fabrics for the main leaf areas and puff paint un-puffed but glitzed with pearl-ex for the veins. 

Melanie: "Macrobiotic"
This is a piece of my hand marbled fabric. It looked so organic and cellular that I thought it was perfect for a scientific challenge. I enhanced the hand marbling with fabric foil and a little Shiva Paintstick.

Joan and Marcia ran out of time and were unable to complete their pieces. 
Hope and Pat are away. Summer!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013


Our inspiration word for July was "sacred."

Marcia - I did not finish my piece. I was a bit frustrated in the beginning. I wanted to do a piece based on my church. I started by trying to take a photo but the church is tall and I could not get the entire building including the steeple unless I was quite far away. Then I had hills and angles to cope with. Finally I got the best pictures I could and used them to make applique shapes. I think I did the steeple about 6 times over before I was happy with it. I want to do some more work on the granite steps. Stay tuned for a picture of the finished piece.

Joan- I have always been drawn to vintage religious medals; especially if they include the madonna. I love the image of this French madonna and child. I printed the image of the medal on to fabric and appliqued it into the middle of this piece of fabric I have had for a long time. The fabric has Latin text on it and seemed to fit with the image.  It still need to be quilted.

Melanie - This piece combines several sacred symbols. The background was created with soywax batik on linen. The resulting luminous colors are reminiscent of a stained glass window.

The tree is an interpretation of the “tree of life,” a common motif in various world theologies, mythologies, and philosophies. It alludes to the interconnection of all life on our planet. The term “tree of life,” is also used as a synonym for sacred tree.

In this piece, the tree of life is created with yarn “couched” on to the fabric with a small zig zag stitch.
The Spiral, is the oldest symbol known to be used in spiritual practices.It reflects the universal pattern of growth and evolution. It represents the goddess, the womb, fertility and life force energy.
The roots and branches of the tree in this piece terminate in spirals. The background quilting also incorporates spirals.

This is a scared geometry symbol for the center of the Flower of Life, a sacred blueprint of all creation. The pattern appears in most early religious traditions in the Middle East. The overlapping circles represent the omniscience of Creation honoring the infinite connections of all life circles. The Seed of Life also represents acceptance for all beings, all cultures, all beliefs and resonates tolerance and infinite energy for all beings.

In this piece, the “Flower of Life” is overlayed in gold on the “Tree of Life” enhancing the sacred symbolism.

Cathey - This piece uses Tibetan prayer flags to represent sacred. The background is collage pieced to represent the Himalayan Mountains. I used several different fabric types for the background including poly with burned edges. I sprayed "radiant rain" on the mountain top snows. The prayer flags are loose on the piece and provide dimension.

Hope - I had a piece of fabric that I batiked with soy wax and dye. It had some beautiful light areas that reminded me of a stained glass window. There is also a line through the piece that suggests a cross. I added an "arch" in the finishing to enhance the stained glass window effect.

Sheila - This piece is "Krishna." In it  I used hand painted silk, sari silk waste and lots of beading and stitching, As always, everything was done by hand. The backing is peacock fabric because peacocks are sacred Krishna symbols.

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Here are some additional pieces of mine.


Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Solar Sister Exhibit Opening in Geneva

Melanie and Joan created a quilt that was accepted for the "Solar Sister" project sponsored by Quilt for Change

Solar Sister: Empowering Women through Clean Energy.”  “Solar Sister” will go on display at the United Nation’s European headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, the Palais des Nations, starting Thursday, June 27, and running through most of July.

Quilt for Change raises awareness on global issues that affect women and empowers North American quilters to become agents for social change. Working with the U.S. Mission to the United Nations in Geneva and partner organizations we create themed quilt challenge exhibitions which are displayed at the United Nations and tour major quilt festivals in the United States. The exhibitions are a forum for fiber artists not only from the U.S. and Canada but also around the world.  

Solar Sister highlights the terrific work of Rhode Island-based non-profit Solar Sister, which started out working in Uganda and now is in five other countries in Africa (Rwanda, South Sudan, Kenya, Tanzania, and Nigeria).  Solar Sister provides the funding and a business-in-a-box model to outfit Solar Sister Entrepreneurs to sell solar-based products in their communities.  Solar Sisters re-pay their micro-loans and re-stock their inventories using the proceeds of sales to their friends and neighbors, and Solar Sister reinvests the original funds (obtained through donations and grants from individuals, companies and foundations) in new Entrepreneurs in order to grow a network of empowered small businesswomen.  The products sold are all solar-based and designed to provide light and power to improve daily life and productivity.  Using Solar Sister products, a family can now cook meals in a more efficient and cleaner way, cutting down on indoor air pollution and associated health problems; children can study at night and achieve more at school; mothers can limit the time they spend away from home seeking firewood or walking to a facility with electricity so that they can work; and families can be in phone contact with neighbors, family and the outside world.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013


For May, the group decided to do a project based on the Quilting Arts reader challenge, "Passages." Here are our results.

Melanie: Since this project was around the anniversary of the Titanic sinking, that was on my mind. I call this first piece "Passage Interrupted." I used walnut ink, scrunched the fabric and let it try to create a distressed parchment look, then printed the pass on to the fabric with my printer. I stitched it to allow the edges to curl up adding to the distressed look. The ocean is made of silk pole shibori. The whitecaps are French knots and white beads.

I did a second piece because I could not get "Secret Passages"out of my mind. I washed some blue and yellow transparent fabric paint over a scrap piece of fabric with some markings on it. I then screened on 3 images of a stone entrance. I quilted a figure into each entryway and added some ravens in flight. A little hand stitching for texture finished it off. 

Hope:  I wanted to make a piece to represent my recent "passage" into retirement. I thought of me on my bicycle riding free. The first piece I made was of the rider cycling through a town. I was not totally happy with it because it seemed too stiff. I made a second piece using a piece of earth oxide dyed fabric for the background. This piece leaves more to the imagination and I am much happier with it. The group pointed out that the rider in the second piece is going downhill. An unconscious metaphor for the sense of freedom I felt with the second piece. So here is my bicycle "series."

Cathey: I took a fairly literal approach to this project and made a doorway. By now everyone knows how I love working with lots of different media. I made an urn using puff paint. I glazed and painted it and sewed it on to the background. The urn is filled with flowers made from a product called "flower soft." Glue, stitching and solvy helped me get the flower soft onto the fabric. The door is made from scrapbooking paper. The stone archway of the door was quilted first, then painted. I added some Golden Pumice Gel to the paint and painted the stones. It really gave them a great texture.  I quilted the background fabric in large rectangles to make it look like blocks of marble. 

Joan: For the first weeks of the challenge, I kept thinking about how I could represent my mom's passing. I could not get it right in my head so I looked up "passage" in the dictionary for a little inspiration. One definition talked about stages. That made me think of cicadas. They have been in the news because this is their year! I used a piece of fabric that I had experimented with. It has paint, bubbles and sunprinting on it. Perfect. I sketched a cicada on the fabric, them enhanced it with markers. I used some crayons to darken the upper body and make the wing stand out. I heard someone say that their cycle is "Sing, Fly, Mate and Die" and had to incorporate that phrase.

Marcia: I had a hard time with this one. I finally decided on the passage of night into day. The 9 dark pieces on the left  represent 9 hours of night. The right side of the piece has 15 pieces of lighter fabric representing 15 hours of daylight. This was the split at the time I made the piece. The fabrics are silk, sari silk waste, velvet, leather, hand dyed cotton and other commercial. I embellished with hand stitching, beads and buttons.  I especially like the little spring rabbit button in the lower right corner.

Sheila Rae: I made this piece from a quilt block symbolizing "safe passage" on the underground railroad. Since that was a story of blacks and slavery, I used African fabrics. The background is a yellow hand dye. All the stitching was done by hand and some of the thread used is fly tying thread. I embellished the piece with shells, hand embroidery and buttons.