Posts Tagged ‘learning’

I have many painter friends, and I am active in the local art world as well as the community of Art Quilters.  So when Plein Air West Reading loosened its rules this year, I decided to take up the challenge.

This is the second year of the event. For 2017 only 80% of your piece has to be completed outdoors.  The rest can be in the studio.

Here’s what I did: limited my palate to blacks, whites and grays, and pre-fused some workable size pieces to take with me. I packed a scissors, tracing paper, parchment paper, drawing paper, muslin and pencil and set up a small table near an outlet so I could plug in my iron.

I started as any Plein Air artist would: made a sketch.  For me, the sketch had to be the same size as the finished piece would be.  And I worked as I always do: traced the shapes in the drawing from the sketch (the buildings, the sky etc) and cut them out in fabric.

Honestly the experience did me more good than I thought it would.  As in all plein air work, the values are higher keyed (brighter — more white) than when translated through a photograph.  Since values are my most difficult artistic component, it was a useful adjustment to work outside. Also, of course, you can walk around and better see what you are trying to depict than when working from a photo.

The most difficult part was trying to keep the pieces from moving in the slightest breeze.  A pin or two helped here. And I don’t know how I could do this without an extension cord and iron fairly handy. I used it by heating it up, unplugging and bringing over to my work — still hot enough to activate the fusing and hold the fabric pieces down. But I couldn’t be too very far from it.

Of course I finished the pieces in my studio: using my sewing machine for the quilting and binding. I also took photos, printed them on cloth, and places them in key spots.  Those I printed in color, so the works were desaturated with bits of color.

These will be shown June 17 at Art of the Avenue in West Reading.  Just look for the Art Quilts in the Plein Air display.  I doubt there will be any others.  But maybe next year!

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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!

This is the total of what I got done in January: 27 art quilts in 30 days, participating in the 30 Paintings in 30 Days, international art challenge.

Each piece is not linked to its “day.” <sorry!> Day #1 is top left, and it continues left to right along the top row. All the way down to the bottom right. The Tree Map piece is pictured as it is now, incomplete, with 6 pieces.  It will have a total of nine. You can go to my blog to view each piece, and read about its inspiration.

I was going to leave out the demonstration sample from my art quilt class, but then stuck it in anyway so the number would equal 27. It is tagging along at the bottom right.

Congratulations to everyone who participated in this, especially my fellow Art Plus Gallery members, Karen Weber and Gloria Urban, and Sue Goodling.

I hope everyone has a great year making art!

30 days total

I sat myself down yesterday and watched Thread Therapy with Dr. Bob.  Subtitled “Eliminate your Frustrations with Thread, Needles, Tension,” it went a long way to do just that during its less than two hour running time.

I have long appreciated Superior Threads and their accurate but humorous advice. I’ve poked around their website, read their blogs, and received their emails. But I learned so much more from this little video.

Here is one teaser from just the first few minutes.

I, like many other quilters, have been seduced by the sparkly metallic threads on a narrow cone at the fabric store.  But then when sewing with them, they break.

Bob demonstrated a simple test for metallic thread.

Pull a foot or two off the spool.  If the thread is curly and twisted as it hangs, it will twist along the thread path and break when it goes through the tension disks.

If it hangs straight, it will sew without twisting.

Some of the problem lies in the manufacturing — the way the metallic foil is wrapped around the center thread. Some of the problem lies with the diameter of the core. Some are just a half inch or so, the thread takes on “memory” of that tight wind.

Superior’s metallic threads are wound on a larger diameter spool, and don’t twist.

I feel like I’ve learned a lot over the years about thread, tension and needles.  But so many of the gaps in my knowledge were filled in by sitting down and watching this video.

The DVD is still available and free of charge.  Here is the link:
http://www.superiorthreads.com/shop/product/DVD-Thread-Seminar/

There is much to be gained from this wonderful company. In the future I’ll let you know what you CAN do with those pesky metallic threads in your stash.