Wednesday, October 5, 2016


Our challenge for October was to work in Series.

Shelia Rae: I was not here last month. The challenge then was circles. Here is my piece from that challenge. The frightening images inside the circles come from my childhood nightmares precipitated by the Cuban Missile Crisis and the defense drills we had to perform in school and in my town.

For my Series pieces, I used vintage "orphan blocks" given to me to create a series based on the myths and legends of the underground railroad quilts.

This first block is a Log Cabin. Legend has it that when the center was red, it was safe to pass; black meant stay away. This is a safe block with a red button center. There are also chains in the piece representing the chains of slavery.

My second piece is a North Star block and represents flying to freedom, The background fabric is embroidered with many small x's. The wings were in one of my donation bags. I spray painted them green.

The third piece is Turnbolt. There is a north star and compass for guidance and stained glass-looking fabric to bring to mind churches. Churches were often safe havens to slaves fleeing to freedom.

The Fourth block is Bowtie. Its message is "go in disguise" or "hide in plain sight." In this block there is lots to look at and lots of glitz to distract the viewer from the basic block. 

Pat: A couple of months ago our challenge was geometry, I liked the piece I made but wanted it to have more depth. I continued to work on it and added a lot more stitching, especially around the edges to create shading and depth. Here is the enhanced piece:

Here is the original:

For my Series challenge, I continued with last month's circle motif. That one was multicolored and this time I want to do one in black and white. I recently purchased some fabric and was inspired by the circles with the turquoise center. It added just a bit of color to the otherwise black and white scheme. I appliqued the circles on to black fabric then used white decorative stitching in circles to create the piece.

This was my inspiration fabric. I cut circles from it for the piece.

Here is my black, white and turquoise piece: (note from photographer - this piece is perfectly executed. The photo was taken with someone holding it up and that made it look a little wonky).

Here is the first in the series (from last month):

Melanie: Abstraction. Well it is not a series yet but this piece was made from a piece of "silk paper" I made. It contains silk roving, metallic threads and other ephemera. The paper is mounted on a batik and silk background then stitched, I have more silk paper and plan to make one or two more to complete the series. 

Marica: My series in Gesneria. These 3 pieces were made with raw edge applique, some silk and stitch. The middle piece has a beaded edge.

Thursday, September 1, 2016


Our word for August was Circles.

Pat - Lava Bubbes  I have been experimenting with alcohol inks on non porous paper e.g. Yupo. The colors are intense and the way the ink spreads and disperses on the medium is so interesting. For this quilted piece, I scanned 2 of the Yupo ink designs, printed them on to fabric then sliced and alternated them for the composition. Both prints had circular motifs so they were perfect for this month's theme.

Going in Circles - for this piece I used a technique of centering fabric on a tack and rotating it around while using many of the decorative stitches on my machine. The variety of decorative stitches and colored thread on black give this design a lot of impact. The center of the circles are filled with washers painted with the alcohol inks. 

Hope - Sunprint. With the hot, sunny weather, I have been doing a lot of sunprinting. For this piece, I layered some stencil work in white over the sunprint. I added a few drops of pearlescent paint to the sunprinting paint. In person, you can see the sparkle it added.

Joan - Fresh Perk. I used a program on my ipad call "Percolate" to create a subtle circular background. The image is printed on to the fabric. I overlayed a piece of tulle then cut it away from the coffee. The tulle remaining around the edges of the coffee created a bubble-like effect of freshly brewed and poured coffee.

Pathways 2 - This piece is similar to an earlier one I made. The circle is cut from a piece of my hand-marbled fabric. I appliqued it to to white fabric and used various threads and stitch lengths to create the pathways.

Melanie - Circular. This piece is created from a variety of hand-dyed and commercial fabrics layered in off-set circles. The circles are outlined with couched black yarn. 

Cathey - Rust. I found this rusted strip along the highway and have been waiting to use it in a piece. I love the color and texture of rusted objects. The object inspired the rust colored fabrics and the circles create balance in the composition. 

Marcia- Meandering Circles. This piece was created from a piece of my hand-dyed clamp-resist fabric. I added buttons, yo-yos and yarn. The hanging system is a stick with small curtain clamps. 

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Steam Punk

Our theme for this month was "Steam Punk." We really had fun with this one!

Shelia Rae: This is my take on steam punk, I even wrote a little haiku to go with it. "A tisket, a tasket, A basketful of gaskets, For my car has died; Time to buy, I created the background from an orphan block I was given. I used alcohol spray to transfer some color from the original basket motif then sprayed with it with glimmer spray. The sewn-on objects include a watch, actual gaskets and various other metal ephemera, There is Angelina film behind some of the open pieces.

Hope: Steam Punk Fish. I overdyed some industrial motif Tim Holtz fabric for the background. The mouth of the fish is a zipper. Gears, picture hangers, and a variety of other metal trinkets,make up the fish details.

Cathey: Victorian bustiers with a steam punk twist. I created the bustier from "pleather" with details of pearls and metallic items. The skirt is shabby, ratty tulle.  This something I would wear if I went to a steam punk event!

As my art quilt group buddies know, I have been studying at Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). One of the things I have been doing is designing fabric, Here is an example that I had printed on canvas at Spoonflower. 

Joan: I loved this challenge and made 3 pieces! I had several pieces of fabric I had rusted and thought it would made the perfect background for a steam punk piece. I used my printer to print images on the rusted fabric, I made 2 clocks. Similar but in different frames and in one I used metallic thread for the simple quilting lines. The third piece is in a double window frame. I printed gears on the rusted fabric.

Melanie: Steam Punk Guitar. I was trying to find some gears for this project. I asked my husband if he had an old watch I could take apart. He didn't but gave me these tuner parts from an old mandolin. I also sunprinted some fabric with small clock gears and stencils and used it for part of the background. 

Pat: Modern Steam Punk - Tools of the trade. I have been interested in string art for a while and wanted to use it in a quilted piece, Although steam punk is industrial/Victorian, what better embellishments to use but the tools of the trade in sewing/quilting. Steampunk can also be fairly dark so mine is more modern with lighter, brighter colors. 

The background is black kona cotton. Embellishments include buttons, mother-of-pearl belt buckle, binding clips, pastern tracer roller, and tape measure and rick rack for the binding. 

Marcia: Geared Clock. I just happened to have a big package of gears. I decided to make a steam punk clock. The background fabric is industrial in feeling - reminiscent of propellers or diamond plate. The strips are velvet. Chain surrounds the clock "face" and ribbon was used for the binding. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2016


Our inspiration word for this month was Geometry,

Shelia Rae - I found some measurment tools including a compass and used them as embellishments. The focus fabric is by Tim Holtz. It has a technical motif. The beads are made from enameled dominos. The patterning on the dominos is very much like the fabric.


In addition to the challenge piece, I did two others. 

Spirit Horse uses some of the fabric Hope brought back from Africa. Here I have folded it in places to add dimension. I sprayed the background fabric with glimmer mist for a spiritual feel along with the white horse and "stars."

Marital Discord includes an embroidered squirrel on linen, pumpkins, star and other button embellishments. The title refers to an incident in my life involving a squirrel and pumpkin pie candles but I will leave the rest to your imagination.

Joan - Gravitational Waves. Maybe this is more physics than geometry but it is still math so.....
I love the image of the earth with the gravitational waves depicted. I interpreted this using hand marbled cotton for the earth, overlayed with hand marbled organza. The waves are stitched in heavy polyesther orange thread. 

Melanie - Mondrian The inspiration for this piece is inspired by the artist, Mondrian. I used Shiva painticks on black fabric. It is quilted with black pearl cotton along the rectangle lines.

I also did 2 other pieces with geometric shapes. The base fabric here is a Gelli plate print. The shapes are made from silk and hand-dyed fabric 

The background fabric here is a piece with text written with thickend dye in a squeeze bottle, then overdyed with a scrunch technique and indigo dye. The other fabrics are silk and hand-dyes. 

Cathey - Frida and the Concentric Circles. As you all know by now, I am intrigued by Frida Kahlo. Shelia Rae gave me a piece of upholstery fabric with her image and I appliqued it to this batik with a circular theme. I recently took a class at RISD on "experimental embroidery" and used those techniques here to embroider many concentric circles with warious threads, yarns, beads and other embellishments. 

Hope - Tree Snails. Like Joan, not geometry but algebra - The Fibonacci sequence. This mathmatical model is used to describe an amazing variety of phenomena, in mathematics, science, art and nature. The sequence leads to, the golden ratio, spirals, certain curve formations and the petal arrangment on some flowers. No one can really explain why it is echoed so clearly in the world of art and nature.

Tree snails are amazing and colorful creatures that literallly live in trees. I hand painted them on to this leafy fabric. Their arrangement here and the spiral patterning of their shells reflect the Fibonacci sequence.

Marica - Geometric Collage. In this piece everything from the weave in the base fabric to the cut shapes, added embellishments and the quilting reflect geometric shapes. 

Pat - Optical Illusion. I found some images on Pinterest of black and white squares put together in a way that bends sight lines and creates depth, I thought it would be interesting to make this with fabric. 

 inspiration pictures

I did not quite get the bending illusion in the linear pieced strips but it is still interesting. The circles are shaded with pencil!