Archive for the ‘Teaching’ Category

Or a week, more accurately.

Here’s a round up of some of what I’ve done this week, after our final art fair of the year last weekend.

I responded to Studio Art Quilt Associates call for Juried Artist members to submit a piece to Art Quilt Quarterly on the subject matter of grief.  I submitted “Dreamers Quilt.” A woman and girl walk through a dreamy landscape.  The girl goes on alone. “No Deportations” is stamped on the surface.

Dreamers Quilt

I made nine new Hot Spots for the Store at GoggleWorks Art Center.  They let me know that they were almost out.  I really appreciate their help with keeping up with my inventory.  The black ones seem to be going well, so I made all nine in black. Four feature the Michael Miller fabric “the dysfunctional family,” which is always popular.

9 Hot Spots

I was pleasantly surprised to open the Weekend section of the Reading Eagle today and see Steel Mills at Night from the Layers in Common show  at Awesome Dawgs on the Exhibits page. The show consists of art quilts by me and photographs by Jay Ressler.

Reading Eagle Weekend

Hm, what else? I took a number of items to Arts Barn in Schuylkill Haven, as they are beefing up their inventory for holiday shopping and special events. Here are a few of them.

What’s Your Sign? 18 x 27 framed. I limited myself to the signs on our dead end street that ends at the foot of the mountain, and made a fantasy landscape from them. Interestingly enough, Jay Ressler has presented a wintertime photo of that same school bus, currently decomposing in someone’s back yard. He calls it No School Today. (haha)

Whats Your Sign 16.5 x 25.25 smaller

Dogwood and Old Lace, 7 x 9 framed. A delicate piece with hand embroidery on a sun print of found objects and a dogwood blossom.

Dogwood and old lace

A Glance at the Past II, 18 x 17 framed. A beautiful building across the street from my studio in Pittsburgh caught my attention. I eliminated the surrounding buildings in the row, so we can see the hills beyond. There are echoes of the past with the blast furnace in the distance, some row houses, and a sweet face from another century peaks through the window. (Note: I’ve toned down those lavender hills since this picture was taken.  Much better!)

A Glance at the Past II small

I took my entry to the Berks Art Alliance member show to the Highlands. It is Summer’s End, 27 x 21 framed. This art quilt was inspired by a Jay Ressler photographic composition, The Sunflower King. A goldfinch has lost his bright summer hue. He sits atop a dried up sunflower, which bends to the inevitable approach of autumn.

summers end small

And last but not least I finished up another class at the Salvation Army store in Hamburg. “Collage Quilting.” It was an experiment, and not completely successful. There was too great a learning curve for people who hadn’t made art quilts before.  No one quite completed their piece. Next time maybe a simpler, art quilts for beginners.  I still like the wrinkle of being able to use their cast off donations.

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Okay, this post isn’t quite about art.  But — I admit it — I get almost as much pleasure out of craft. And, truth be told, as much pleasure watching people having fun making things.

That’s how it was in the Upcycling Denim class I taught recently at our local Salvation Army store.

With the carefully arranged shoe and clothing racks as our backdrop, participants cut up and put together old denim jeans that weren’t up to the store standards for re-sale.

I introduced the class with an appreciation for denim. Each person held a pair of jean in their hands as I briefly explained the origins of jeans as work clothes in the late 19th Century in the US. Denim itself — the warp indigo dyed and the weft white — in its distinctive twill weave, goes back to France.

I worked briefly in a Lees jean plant during my 13 years as a sewing machine operator, and remember that it took 13 separate types of sewing machines to make a pair of jeans. I pointed out the flat fell seams on the jean that have them, that make a decent handle for a tote.  And the rivets which you do not want to include in your seams!  A broken needle will be the consequence.

By the second day of the two-day class, the 5 members had learned each others names, and seemed really happy with their projects. An eleven year old fit in as an equal.  A 70 something gentleman decided to make a second belt pouch to balance out the first pouch which he had completed.  And wine totes abounded.  They were based on my own design, but each bore the distinctive personality of its maker.

This class is scheduled for another session. I hope the magic happens again.

 

 

I would like to take a moment to celebrate the conclusion of my most recent class: Raw Edge Applique at The Arts Barn in Schuylkill Haven, PA. First of all, owner Deb Cooper and Education Director Joanne Cosentino were so gracious and accommodating from beginning to end, even providing snacks for the students during class. I am very grateful to them.

There were 4 students.  Even that small number kept me busy every moment. They were good humored, smart, and cooperative. I loved to see when they “got it!” Some examples of comments, this from an experienced traditional quilter, “This is so much more freeing than making all the little squares!”  “Wow, what a difference it makes when you’ve quilted the piece”

I provided little thumbnail sketches they could use for composition ideas.  Two used them, one made her own composition, and one took hers from my Quilt National 2015 Catalog. She said she kept coming back to “Infinity” by Elena Stokes, and ended up nearly copying that. (on a much smaller scale, with different fabrics.) I hope Elena takes that as a compliment!

The one composition “rule” I impart to beginning students is to avoid the center of a piece. You are trying to keep the eye moving. Use the “rule of thirds,” or at least don’t put an eye catcher in the center!

I brought in two sewing machines, one set up with a walking foot for straight line quilting, and one for free motion.  I didn’t want them to get hung up on fancy quilting techniques for an introductory class.  We only had two 3-hour sessions. Near the end I changed the free motion machine to straight stitch so they could finish the bindings.

They worked in small sizes.  I cut muslin for the substrates approximately 12 x 16″ with batting to match. I had two ironing stations set up, which also worked well. I teach using Mistyfuse, and each student got about 2 yards of it to work with.

I began the class by showing pictures of Art Quilts, and also explaining the relationship between traditional quilts and art quilts, and where raw edge applique fits into the later category. I brought in some of my own pieces, and gave brief demonstrations at various points: how to start, squaring and trimming, quilting, and binding.  I had instructions available for both “facing to the back” and quarter inch binding.  Everyone chose to use the “facing to the back” method.

I also gave color suggestions, using a color wheel.  You can’t go wrong with complimentary colors!

My own take-away is that two 3-hour classes is the very least time needed to start to learn this method. More time would have been better.  But everyone almost finished their work, or is prepared to finish it at home.

 

 

 

I haven’t blogged for a few weeks as we took a fabulous trip to South Africa.  Beforehand I was immersed in preparation, and afterwards I’ve been catching up with myself. More on the artistic inspirations from that trip at another time!

Today I’m getting ready for my first ever Hand Embroidery class, which commences Saturday.

I made a PowerPoint presentation to get students’ creative juices flowing.  Thank you Pinterest and the artists who posted these wonderful images, and many more.

I bought supplies: markers (air and water disappearing and heat transfer markers), thread –6 strand and Perle (5 and 8 weights) — cloth, fusible tear away stabilizer and of course, needles! I’m sticking with embroidery needles size 5-10.

materials

After the presentation, and I explain the tools and materials, we’ll start right in with the stitches.  I’m going to limit it to running stitch, back stitch, blanket stitch and French Knot. If there’s time I’ll add chain stitch, seed stitch and couching.  You can create a world out of those, with their multiple variations.

 

I’m fortunate that my artist friend Cristina Saucedo has allowed me to use her delightful pen and ink drawings as embroidery templates for my students.

I hope someone decides to use them.

Wish me luck. Meanwhile I’m doing a lot more embroidery myself.  More on that later!