Friday, 30 January 2015

IQF 2014 Post 5: Nature

A slightly broad category this week, encompassing a range of styles and techniques, and even subject matter. The unifying feature is that they are all part of the natural universe, moving from the most human-shaped nature to the least. Hopefully, it will all become clear!

Bijou (Jewel) by Christine Alexiou

Up first is this eye-catching quilt by Christine Alexiou, whose Little Blue Planet quilt we saw a couple of weeks ago. Bijou (Jewel) is an homage to Art Nouveau and this picture has failed to pick up the beautiful quilting in the silk that frames the koi in the lily pond. Christine has used appliqué, painted silk, thread sketching, and hand-applied bias tape outlines to create this quilt. I'm generally a big sucker for anything with a stained glass effect, but the colours used here combined with the apparent simplicity of the lines, but the beauty of the interweaving in the shapes keeps me happy for ages when I look at this quilt.

Canola Fields by Leah Gravells

Next we have another quilt that I kept going back to have just one more look at during Festival. Canola Fields by Leah Gravells is QAYG using 3/4" strips. There are 199 different batiks in this quilt and it was a combination of the simple colour palette in a simple arrangement still managing to create an evocative picture that brought me back to this quilt each time. There's a large field just like this one right near the estate I grew up in, and while you wouldn't be lucky enough to see a sky like the one in the quilt every day, those colours just sing of a perfect summer day to me.

GMOs Gone Wild by Betsy Brandt-Kreutz

This is GMOs Gone Wild by Betsy Brandt-Kreutz. Unfortunately, I've lost (if I ever had) my picture of the entry form so I've no details on the techniques used. I like this one because it's completely mad, totally in keeping with its title. It reminds me of coral reefs, but also of those funny little glass ornaments relatives would bring you back from holidays that they had filled with layers and layers of coloured sands. Which you'd use as a paperweight until you knocked it over and it smashed, or all the layers got jumbled and it just looked like regular sand...

Conflagration, Desolation, Rejuvenation, and Jubilation by Vicki Conley

Conflagration, Desolation, Rejuvenation, and Jubilation by Vicki Conley shows the aftermath of a forest fire and subsequent recovery. I love the colour gradients between each block, but also within the background image in the sashing. We're slowly starting to move into how nature copes without humans with this quilt.

Arizona Starry Night by Alicia Sterna

Vincent van Gogh is the inspiration behind Alicia Sterna's Arizona Starry Night. The catherine-wheeling stars are all I see at first, but slowly the cacti distract me, and finally the lights of the villages beneath them draw my eye like gold bars shining out into the desert. There's a nice overview of her work and links on daniel buckley arts, it's from 2012.

Eight Branchlets by Janet Steadman

Eight Branchlets by Janet Steadman is just lovely, the colours and textures (not at all well captured by me but this quilt looked like it would feel like suede) combine to make me want to own it, big time coveting. The quilt is inspired by deciduous trees in winter, and uses Janet's own hand-dyed fabrics which she free hand cut to insert the fine curved branched lines. It is machine pieced and machine quilted.

Abstracted Eucalyptus by Kathy Bachofer

Kathy Bachofer uses Abstracted Eucalyptus to explore the meeting point of organic and structured forms. This quilt was inspired by a photograph of rainbow eucalyptus by Cedric Pollet. Kathy used computer software to abstract the photograph and create a quilt pattern, which she then machine pieced and quilted. I wonder if the structured forms Kathy's mentioning here are the computer and the camera, or are they rigours we apply to quilt making? Either way I really like the resulting quilt, another one I would have stroked if I'd been allowed.

Felted Trees #1 by Charlotte Hickman

Felted Trees #1 by Charlotte Hickman remind me of Mayo, in the West of Ireland. Gnarled, windswept, battered, but still standing. Providing stark contrast to beautiful sunsets and sunrises, reminding us of strength and resilience and the beauty in that.

The Color in Action by Cecilia Koppmann

Finally, we make the leap off world with The Color in Action by Cecilia Koppmann. A triptych of planetary orbits, with colour gradation happening throughout. The perfect continuation of the quilting lines and 'planets' makes me think it was made as one piece and separated into three before binding.

Fireball by Candice Phelan

And our last quilt for this week, it's been a long week this one, lots of photos! Fireball by Candice Phelan. The quilt is raw-edged applique using hand-dyed fabrics, thread-painted and machine quilted with a variety of threads. This is the fourth in a series of sphere quilts. You can see Candice speak about making this quilt on Quilt Alliance's Go Tell It. I always find hearing a quilter speak about their work brings it to life that much more than just looking at a picture with no background to the why they made it.

Ok, next week's post is nowhere near as long as this one, so well done for making it this far! Enjoy your weekends :) Go some American football team!! I will be enjoying being sarcastic about the ads.

Friday, 23 January 2015

IQF 2014 Post 4: Farm to Fabric

The Celebrating Farm to Fabric Exhibit was the product of a challenge set by the American Made Brand. The quilts are made from American Made Brand's cotton solids and the quilters were asked, "What does it mean to you, your family or your community to bring fabric production back to America to use in American made quilts?".

In a serendipitous twist of fate my delay in doing this series till 2015 means I can link to the next quilter's post about this piece which went up this very week! I had seen sneak peeks of this one on instagram before I went to Festival and I was really looking forward to seeing it in real life. I'm not going to be much use because this is yet more online photos of it, but the scale of this quilt is astonishing. The piecing is tiny, and not at all paper pieced.

In Hogtown by Completely Cauchy

In Hogtown by Completely Cauchy is stunning in person, here are some close ups. The quilted grid is about 1" square by my best estimate. This was early in the day, so I was a little scared to put my finger near the quilt for scale... Silly and stupid of me!

Close up of In Hogtown - love the raspberry insert in the binding!

Look at the little corner of blue there amongst the green and yellow, that makes me so happy. And knowing that this is an interpretation of a real town (Gainesville, FL), it makes me love this extra. But also seriously, 1" quilting grid - see how small it makes that piecing! Crazy crazy crazy!

Close up of In Hogtown - 1" quilting grid, tiny piecing, happy blue corner

Furrows by Charlotte Noll is made with fused raw-edged appliqué and pieced. The inspiration comes from the farm fields in her home state of Florida, where she can drive through the countryside seeing newly prepared fields ready for planting and lush orange groves. Though most of the small farms near where she lives have been bought up and covered with concrete to be turned into stores. This quilt really caught my eye, I love the expanding diagonals, and the radiating nature of the lines, the fact that they're all at different angles and in such good colours just makes me happy on the inside.

Furrows by Charlotte Noll

This next quilt is made by various artists and is made up of license plates from the 50 states. Tour License Plate Quilt employs various techniques as you might imagine, and has an entire blog tour in case you want to make your own version. Each quilter was selected to make a license plate based on the state they call home!

Tour License Plate Quilt by Various Artists

I've lived in Texas and DC, now DC isn't a state so I had to go for second best, I worked in Maryland while I lived in DC so that's the license plate I took the picture of as a close up! This quilt is a lot of fun, we spent ages looking for Virginia and I'm not sure we found it before we had to move for other people to take photos so there's lots to look at.

Check out how bad the lighting was or my photo taking...

Finally this week we have Fresh Beginnings by Monica Mondragon. This quilt caught my eye straight away. The quilt is machine pieced, appliquéd, and hand-embroidered. Monica wanted to depict the early morning starts of her agricultural background, and how beautiful the sunrise is over rows and rows of crops. She used a squared dresden plate to achieve an intentionally pop art appearance which I love! Again I'm attracted to the radiating lines in strong solid colours, I might be sensing a trend in myself.

Fresh Beginnings by Monica Mondragon

Have a good weekend everyone! Hope you fit in some time getting to do something fun :)

Sunday, 18 January 2015

IQF 2014 Part 3: Realistic?

I'm not casting aspersions with that question mark on the skills of the following quilters, but one quilt, while having quite realistic components, does not depict a particularly realistic scenario.

While I know there are discussions afoot about the artistic merit of quilts made to reproduce a photograph (see this blogpost for a summary) and that's something to consider for yourself and if you're in charge of dishing out awards at shows. These quilts blow my mind with the skill they clearly require. Like, how do you even begin?

Alleyway by M. Bunte

This quilt drew me in first, straight from the front of the modern quilt guild's exhibit, it enticed me over. Alleyway by M. Bunte. Lafayette, Indiana is the inspiration and piecing, hand-appliqué, painting, and machine quilting brought the quilt together. The brooding greys, and the stark shadows against the lit buildings caught my attention and imagination. Even months later I love to stare at this quilt and wonder about the rest of this town.

Little Blue Planet by Christine Alexiou is realistic, whimsical, and deep all at once.

Little Blue Planet by Christine Alexiou

The quilt showcases machine piecing, free-motion quilting, hand-appliqué, and painting. The inspiration was a view of Earth from space and I'll quote some of the artist's statement here:

Close up of Little Blue Planet by Christine Alexiou

" the end, Earth is our only real home and we all must live here together. The window represents the idea that, no matter what landscape we see, it is only an aspect of one home. The night sky we see reminds us of the vastness of the universe..."

Three Brains by Laura Espenscheid

I wish I'd had more time to go back and spend it with Laura Espenscheid's Three Brains. This quilt really resounded with me. I think it's incredibly brave to be open with your personal struggles and it's something I admire. That sort of vulnerable honesty is something my too often too independent self aspires toward, and I have a personal quilt idea that has been permanently placed on the back burner for being too personal for me to put out there. So I really loved this quilt on many levels. The techniques used were fusing, trapunto, and machine quilting.

Before the Storm by Ludmila Aristova

Before the Storm by Ludmila Aristova uses metallic fabrics and what I would call fabric origami but I'm sure has an official sewing name. This quilt is part of a series called 'Cityscapes' by the artist in which she interprets New York City through texture and colour in fabric, sequins, ribbons, and metallic thread. I was right there is an official name for the fabric origami, it's listed in the techniques which are many and varied! This quilt uses appliqué, hand and machine piecing, hand quilting, painting, hand-pleated, tucked, and prairie points to translate New York City into fabric. The colours are lovely I think, but I've always liked stormy skies.

Ole' #9 by Donna Severance and British Garden by Anna Maria
Schipper Vermeiren

These next two quilts I've popped in as a pair because I took pretty poor pictures at the time, unfortunately, and I largely took them to show to my parents. On the left is Ole' #9 by Donna Severance with its painted sky background and the freezer paper pieced train that almost pops off the quilt at you. On the right is British Garden by Anna Maria Schipper Vermeiren which placed in the awards somewhere (detailed, right! I know my ribbons) and reminds me of an oil painting.

Beneath My Wing by David Taylor

Finally, we have Beneath My Wing by David Taylor. It's really hard to believe this is made of fabric and thread. The shading and perspectives are so perfect, the time it must take to to find all the right pieces to put this together. It's really jaw-dropping when you start to consider it. This quilt won the the Fairfield Master award for Contemporary Artistry.

Ok, there you have it. Realistic quilts, filled with skill and occasional whimsy. I wonder if you would attempt to make one? I find them daunting, the way I know when I try to sketch something from real life it won't actually look like that thing. But without practice no-one gets better, or something, right? Still not sure if I'm interested, I am into picking up some of those skills though and maybe applying them elsewhere...

A x

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Trying Out the 2015 Finish Along

I've never linked up before, but at the end of last year when I was thinking about how overwhelmed all my should-be-doing thoughts and projects were making me feel I decided to approach this year in a larger-scale format. I broke it down into quarters and popped two or three quilts to work on or finish into each quarter. If I actually follow the plan then I'll triple my output compared to last year (just 2.5 quilts). But I'm still not sure how good my attention span actually is, so we'll all see together!

On my short-term temporary design wall, that's been up for 7 months.

I wasn't sure if I'd hold myself up against a to-do list on the blog. But my compromise is that it's a short to-do list, and it's totally on me whether or not I get berated for sticking to it or floating off down a separate alley of making. I make this fun, or not :) Then Adrianne at On the Windy Side was hosting the FAL 2015 and it all seemed providential!

2015 FAL at On the Windy Side

So here they are, my quilts in progress this quarter:

The Texas Quilt.

This has one final block needed before I can finish the top. The big problem will be the back of the quilt which is supposed to be a lonestar, but that already went wrong, so it's going to be a recovered lonestar. I have all the pieces, I just have to get through the unpicking and perfecting of the 60° piecing!

Neon Quilt

This quilt is currently a pile of fabric that I specifically bought for a self-drafted pattern more than a year ago. This will be my first applique quilt, something I'm planning on being a bit of a theme this year. I want to level up my applique skills and learn what I can. This is the start - I'm hoping it will be the most straightforward of the quilts I have planned in this vein.

The top shouldn't take that long to put together, but I'm still not sure if I'll manage to get beyond top stage this quarter. So I'll be happy to get that far, and anything more is pure bonus!

Staring at me from my sewing table

Now, there should have been another picture post from the IQF 2014 yesterday but there wasn't. It's partly written and the pictures are ready. I've just been flattened this week by some sort of cold/flu thing (I'm currently thanking the flu shot that I haven't been completely knocked sideways). Hopefully I'll have the post up so we can ogle the pretties by the end of weekend! Have a good one, x

Friday, 9 January 2015

IQF 2014 in Photos Part 2: Coloursssss

For my last day in Ireland, a dull, grey, miserable, rainy day, I've decided to look at the quilts popped into my Coloursss category! Colour is so subjective, so I don't for a second expect these quilts to necessarily appeal to all of you. I did an interesting exercise for myself a month or so ago. I went through my Inspiring Quilts pinterest board which has over 250 quilts on it, and asked myself which ones would I actually consider putting on my own bed. I came out with only 14 quilts. I couldn't believe it but my personal style, which I couldn't have described before this exercise, is for lots of colour, almost always includes shades of pink, and shapes I find relaxing (it is a bed after all). That's not to say I wouldn't choose the other 200 odd quilts for inspiration if they weren't going on my own bed, but I wanted to know about my own very personal aesthetic. I know I've spent most of my time so far making quilts for others so their style has always been the primary concern. Something to maybe think about for yourself?

Anyway, back to Festival!

Yellow Sky by Shirley Gisi
I can't find a website for Shirley Gisi but I did find an interview she did at Festival for Quilt Alliance talking about a different quilt, you can watch that here if you like! I love Yellow Sky, Shirley describes it as depicting scenery from the Southwest with an abstract landscape and geometric quilting shapes. It's entirely machine pieced using freezer paper piecing and then home machine quilted. I've included it here in my colours section but honestly the shapes draw me in just as much, the juxtaposition of awkward angles and big round curves combined with those rich deep colours completely envelop me each time. The darker outer border which is a continuation of the quilt is so clever as a frame, effective but not at all distracting! I haven't even begun to wax on about her use of light and shade, that river! Suffice to say, I love this one and the skills are something to aspire to for me.

Maui Gold by Karen Donobedian
My photograph doesn't do justice to the beautiful colours of Maui Gold by Karen Donobedian. Someone else I've failed to find online, I'll never get a job as a private eye at this rate. This quilt is inspired from a public domain photograph at NOAA which Karen decided to render at sunset rather than the daytime it was taken in. Raw-edged fused applique, with painting and threadwork to define the colours of the ocean and sky. Applique is something I want to explore a lot more this year and it's interesting to see the range of output that can be achieved from the technique. I want to learn more about quilt painting as well - does it render the quilt only useable as art? Can you make a fully functional bed quilt that's painted? I know you can buy inks and dyes that can be heat set, but can you achieve this level of blending and nuance with them? So much to find out :)

Identity Crisis by Suzan Engler
Suzan Engler specialises in digital painting and artistry, she then prints her paintings onto fabric and quilts them with variegated thread on her home sewing machine. I love the result. I would buy this calf and hang him in my apartment if I could afford him. The colours, his eyes, his shiny nose and those big ears. I wonder why Identity Crisis though? Because she straddles several worlds of artistry and creation, maybe? Or does the calf have a back story I don't know? Either way I've toyed with the idea of printing out some of the maps my husband makes at work onto fabric and quilting them, I always want to start bed sized though. Maybe I need to do some small practise ones first!

Tutti Frutti City Skyline by Susan Bleiweiss
Sue Bleiweiss had a couple of quilts around Festival and I think i took a picture of each of them. They are part of an on-going series using hand-dyed cotton, raw-edged fused applique, and machine quilting. Sue describes them as whimsical and the word that comes to mind for me is jaunty. I particularly like the billboard which shows a paler version of the same type of buildings!

In a similar vein is Prince Charming's Shoe Sale by Pam RuBert which really made me laugh.

Prince Charming's Shoe Sale by Pam RuBert
Finally, is Life After 40...From Constriction to Creativity by Betty Hahn.

Life After 40...From Constriction to Creativity by Betty Hahn
The quilt is painted and machine quilted. I think this is my favourite every time I see it. It feels so wild and free and the colours are just fantastic, that deep yellow with the peachy pink and cool bluey-greens - divine. Then you read the thought behind it and for me it gets so much better!

"After all the rules of the years before age 40, the 40s, 50s, 60s, and 70s have been                 wonderfully freer and more creative. The lower left corner shows a happy creative life with       rules. The rest of the quilt shows an ever freer sense of creativity."

Maybe by seeing this quilt I can begin to shed my reliance on rules and having the right way or the right answer sooner? Maybe we have to journey through the rules in order to successfully shed them? I don't know, but I love this woman's journey and I love this quilt.

Friday, 2 January 2015

International Quilt Festival Fall 2014 in Photos - A Series; part 1

International Quilt Festival Ruby Jubilee Exhibit

Possibly the worst blog title ever! I love it. I know Festival happened at Halloween and it's now two months and a few days later, but I really wanted to share some of the quilts I saw there. It was hugely overwhelming and we only got there on the very last day. Next year I might go for two visits, so I can spend proper time with some of the more mind-blowing quilts. Mind-blowing to me anyway!

Christ in Gold by Laurie Tigner

This was my first ever quilt show. Way to start with a bang! The hall is enormous and I still don't fully understand the background to all the various exhibitions. Another reason why visiting over two days would be better next time, or a smaller show, or maybe I need to be more clued in to things? All three?? There are sections you cannot take pictures in, one was the traditional quilts section and it was amazing. Seriously amazing! And I have nothing to show you, I didn't spend half enough time wandering that part but I did see it all and I still, now while I write this, wish I could go back and see it again.

Mere Color by Julie Scribner
Machine pieced and quilted

I've been pondering lots this last year. The move to Houston has been more difficult than we expected, and every part of our lives has changed with it. Sewing has fallen aside a bit with all this and I've found it unappealing to just make things because I feel I need to keep up or should use that fabric. Even making for others became exhausting. So I've been thinking about sewing things too, why do I quilt, my aesthetic and style, and where do I fit in ,do I even want to fit in? I think the answers are I need a creative outlet, I'm still exploring, and essentially no.

Selfie by Kristin La Flamme
'...a portrait of the artist as her stash'

Festival was awesome for this, though not straight away because it's so overwhelming. There are so many styles and forms and representations of what you can do with some fabric and thread. It's all amazing. It's not all for me, it's not all something I want to try, but the scope is fantastic. And that's what I want to share here over the next several weeks. I'm going to have vague themes pulling things together (either by exhibit where I remembered or arbitrarily). Don't expect sterling commentary, my grounding is firmly in science but I'll attempt to rise above 'ooh the pretty colours' occasionally!

She's A Wildflower by Joanna Wilczynska
Graphic by Gracjana Zielinska
Raw-edge applique, painted, and free-motion quilted

The pictures scattered throughout here are tidbits from all categories, some you'll have seen a lot of already and others not so much. I recorded the quilters details when I took pictures, Paul however was snap happy and mostly went for the colours so I'll do my best to figure out attributions but I might fail. I'll try and link to more information about the quilters where I can, in case you get interested by a technique or piece. We'll see how it goes :)

Dizzy Miss Lizzy by Nysha O. Nelson
A wholecloth, painted, trapuntoed, and machine FMQ'd quilt from the
Inspired by the Beatles Exhibit

My plan is to post this each Friday between now and mid-February. You'll have the weekend to peruse the pics!