My art quilt friend Jenny Lyons, in her blog yesterday, mentioned a technique of using a large print in the center of a piece, and building the composition around it.

Jenny Lyons

She said she’d gotten the inspiration from Linda Waddle years ago:

Jenny on Linda Waddle

I was pleased to know this is actually “a thing,” because I just finished a piece using this technique.  In my head I was calling it using a “Photo starter.”  Jenny called it “Print Starter.”  Same difference! My photo print on cloth was 8.5 x 11,” and of course I wanted my quilt to be larger than that.

About a year ago I had taken a photo of one of my neighbor’s bone pile of rusty cars that he uses to cannibalize for parts. I’d printed the image on cloth, meaning to get back to it.  Which, finally I did.

First I backed it with just one piece of cloth, put it in my embroidery hoop, and started stitching on it.  I used simple stitches: French knots, big wonky cross stitches, and running stitches.

Then I designed “the surround” and cut and put that together using raw edge applique. I used fabrics that complemented the central photo. I included photos printed on silk that I’d taken at the Reading Railroad Heritage Museum while on a recent visit. You can see them peeking through here and there.

Now I had the entire composition, so I made my quilt sandwich and kept hand stitching.  Now each stitch served the function of both embroidering and quilting. The finished size is 23 x 17.5.”

rusty-musty-fusty-small

I won’t lie.  This took at least 2 weeks.

The part I like best is where I painstakingly combined individual strands of embroidery floss to get just the right mixture of colors. Here is a detail of that area.

rusty-musty-fusty-detail-2

I’m calling the piece Rusty Musty Fusty, and submitting it to a show called Muse at Studio B in Boyertown, PA. Curator Jane Stahl encourages literary submissions as well, so I made up this poem.  Though I’m not so sure it gets many “literary” kudos!

Rusty Musty Fusty

By Martha Ressler

 

Yo!  I like ‘em rusty and musty

Old city factories all scruffy

And in the country so crusty

They were cars or trains, all them parts so fusty

Lying around — almost art — a little fuzzy

The sun makes you just

Lovely though scruffy

That’s OK I’m not fussy

I’ll take you thusly

Beauty all rusty.

I just learned from my friend and fellow art quilter Sara Mika that there is a project called 1 Year of Stitches.  It is a thing! Gather your hoop, your needles, some cloth and all of that beautiful embroidery thread and join in.

1 Year of Stitches is the brainchild of Hannah Claire Somerville, who has invited anyone interested to join in this impressive endeavor.

Here is what I’ve been working on for a week or so.  Mine is an art quilt in becoming.  This is the part with most of the embroidery.  A photo of a rusty old car. (see it?  turn it clockwise: that’s a front headlight.)

This piece was inspired by a rusty old car at the end of our road, and a trip to a railroad museum yard.

rusty-musty-fusty

You can stitch on plain cloth, print cloth, linen — whatever makes you happy. Make abstract designs with stitches, or make a little picture — just be yourself.

Look at this densely embroidered beauty by Michelle Anais Beaulieu-Morgan.

Brown paper bag

Join the fun! Get your hoops on.

I tried something different. Starting with an old map (with which I am well supplied!), I created a mono print using gelatin printing and stamping. Then I covered both sides with Misty Fuse to preserve and stabilize the paper, added some fabric pieces, made a quilt sandwich, and quilted the piece. Finally, I added some found objects. The piece is called “Gulf Coast Pastimes,” after some of the wording on the map of Mississippi and Louisiana that is still visible. Plus I was thinking about some of the Gulf Coast pastimes of my younger years while working on it!

I am inclined to try more of these, but would appreciate some feedback.

gulf-coast-pastimes-smaller

I sent in my piece for the SAQA Trunk show in time for the deadline.  It is, somehow, the first time I’ve participated in this great concept.

My piece is called “Of Trees and History.” It’s an “out take” from a piece that was a study for “The Secrets It has Kept,” inspired by my visit to the 500 year old Angel Oak in South Carolina. I color shifted: orange for green on the tree, and turquoise for the trunk color.

This small section thus become an abstract.  It really was the best part of the original piece.  Sometimes that is what you need to do!  Cut it up.

SAQA ( Studio Art Quilts Associates) organizes members to submit small (10 x 7”) art quilts.  They will be mounted on a 12 x 9” backing board and sealed inside a clear envelope. The artist’s location, artwork title, statement and information about techniques and materials will be on the back.

There are about 400 pieces in the Trunk show, and they are then divided into groups to travel.

Our Pennsylvania chapter of SAQA reserved the Trunk Show last year for one of our meetings.  It was so much fun to lay them all and look at each one – so very different in style and technique. And yes, they did arrive in a real trunk!

This year’s Trunk Show will premiere at the 2017 SAQA Conference, which will be held at the end of April in Lincoln, NE. After that, it will travel to venues both in and out of the United States for up to 3 years.

You can make reservations for the 2017 Trunk Show, available in May, by contacting William Reker at shipping@saqa.com.  I think the cost is about $50.

I’m thinking about how to bring it to Reading, PA in the coming year.

SAQA Trunk Show

of-trees-and-history

 

A local gallery made a video of the artists (all artist couples) who participated in their show “Til Death Do Us Art.” My husband, Jay Ressler, and I were two of the couples included in the show.

Here is our video, fresh off the editing table!  It’s very short — don’t worry — we won’t go on and on!

The videos were made by Zachary Reinert.  Thank you Zach, and Jane Stahl of Studio B who organized this.

URL:

See Video here

I bought this hand painted fabric, from Indonesia, at Ladyfingers Sewing Studio in Oley, PA.  I was enamored with the colors and design. So far I’ve made one piece from it, plus a couple of fancy Hot Spots (pot holders that I make to sell.)

malasian-batik-1 malasian-batik-entire

Indonesian hand painted art cloth

Indonesian hand painted art cloth

I was attending a lecture by Quilter Lisa H. Calle at Ladyfingers, which mostly dealt with using rulers for machine quilting. I did buy a couple of them, and ordered a machine foot that is used with rulers, but I’m not sure this method will work for me very well.  Something in me prefers a quirky, asymmetrical look for machine quilting.  But still – I have to give it a try.

While there I met Laura A Cunningham, a fellow art quilter from Mifflintown. She told me to check out Cynthia England, who won best in show in Houston (International Quilt Festival) this year for her quilt “Capetown Reflections.”. I’ve never been attracted to constructing an art quilt using piecing. I find raw edge applique much more immediate.

But I checked out Cynthia England’s method — watched her video on her website, and decided to give it a try.

And – guess what –I liked it! Granted I didn’t make the best use of her complicated piecing method, as I was using entirely the art cloth, except for the white area with the tree drawing. But it did give me some practice with the method, and a bit more texture in the piece.

little-red-maple-detail-smaller the-little-red-maple-17-5-x-16-5-smaller

Plus, her use of freezer paper for the shape elements of a design could work better for construction raw edge applique.  I currently use tracing paper to trace the shape of each element in my cartoon (full scale drawing of my design). But the freezer paper sticks, slightly, to the surface of the fabric, allowing a more accurate cut out of the desired shape.

Is this going to be a change in direction for me? It’s too early to tell. Having tried only one art quilt using it, I’m not sure yet.

In my relatively isolated rural setting, I am grateful to artists’ websites and You Tube postings, and other ways of learning what other are doing. It helps to keep me in touch.

Hot Spot (hot pad) quilted on whole cloth.

Hot Spot (hot pad) quilted on whole cloth.

art-cloth-hot-spot-2 art-cloth-hot-spot-1

I’ve been asked to teach a class on hand embroidery.  Although I started embroidery at my grandmother’s knee at about age 8, I am no expert. So, I must learn. Thank goodness for Pinterest.

First I needed to straighten out my own collection of embroidery floss. I didn’t take a “before” picture, but, just think: “spaghetti.” I have a collection of 6 strand “regular” embroidery floss and #5 Pearl cotton (the non-divisible kind). I recently added a #8 Pearl Cotton to my collection, which is finer, and useful sometimes.

With the 6 strand floss, it’s OK to keep it wound in the two paper bands it comes in, as long as you carefully find the correct end to pull out. If you have the wrong end, it will tangle right away. So – let that go, and find the other end.  If you do have the right end, a length will pull out easily.

With the #5 Pearl, I can find no other solution that re-winding it right away onto cardboard bobbins. (unless it is the kind that comes in sort of a ball.  You can leave it wound on that ball.)

You can buy the bobbins (they’re cheap), or you can make your own out of pressed cardboard (the kind cereal boxes are made of.)

cards

The cardboard bobbins are also useful to organize and keep neat your 2-strands or 3-strands of the 6 strand floss that you have separated, but not used yet.

OK, so now my thread is organized.

box-1 box-2

I’ve been using embroidery as a surface decoration in my art quilts for some time.

steel-valley-16-5x13-small

But here is a piece I’m working on now that is all about embroidery.

hummingbirds

I also will make a sampler piece with about 6 basic stitches.  And borrow heavily from Pinterest to give my students ideas: feminist or subversive sayings, “Zenbroidery” using a pen and ink abstract drawing as basis, botanicals – there are a lot of ways to go with this.

I’ll post more in the future as this develops.

Any ideas you may have are welcome!