Sunday, February 28, 2010

Closing Ceremony Quilts from Olympics Past

This is another piece I worked on during a previous winter Olympics. It is still a work in progress as I have not decided how I want to quilt it. It is made entirely with hand dyed fabrics.
I started with the same center I used on "In Living Color".
It is very well travelled. When I do a lot of hand work on a quilt it goes on a lot of trips with me before I finish the hand work. The center star portion, the petal shapes, and the light/dark aqua diamonds are all hand applique.

This quilt is a charm quilt. A charm quilt uses a different fabric for each patch and each patch is the same shape which forms a tessellation. I used 484 different fabrics. I may not have finished it during the Olympics but I did work on it during the Olympics.

I designed these two quilts on my design wall and then carefully packaged them up and took them to Hilton Head where I pieced them. Any time I did this I took a Polaroid photo of them so if I got something mixed up I'd have a photo to refer to.
These quilts are examples of advancing and receding color and design.
Warm colors advance and cool colors recede.
That is true in the first quilt.

In the second quilt I carefully placed my colors to make just the opposite thing happen. I enjoy playing with color and design theories and making things happen that disprove the theories.

I just had to use this puzzle cut as I love this quilt and I love the cut!
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Saturday, February 27, 2010

Inspiration - where does it come from?

Much of my inspiration for creating my art comes from the fabrics and supplies available to me.
This is an assortment of items that were in Becky's Bodacious Boxes I received this week from St. Theresa's Textiles and items I received from Tote Tuesday.
These alone could keep me busy for a long, long time.
Gorgeous fabrics, and bodacious embellishments and findings.

This is an assortment of prefused pieces of my hand dyed fabrics. It is just a small part of what I have in the drawer.

This photo shows some of the items that were in the Girl Scout Tote I received from Tote Tuesday. What a fun group of fabrics to play with. The little quilt and the tote bag designed my Jamie Fingal are a real inspiration for this former Girl Scout.
As I was working with this photo a Girl Scout song came into my head and it will probably be there for quite a while:

Make new friends,
but keep the old.
On is silver,
and the other GOLD.

So all of you former Girl Scouts, sing along with me!

This has truly been a GOLD week for me.

Even though these pieces are well underway it is never too late to add or change something if you can come up with a better idea.
The sign you see "It's only fabric!!" was a gift from my friend Tommy Fitzsimmons.
It serves as a reminder that we should use our fabrics and not consider them too precious to cut into.

If you are not a quilter or artist and you walked into my house this week with all these vignettes of inspiration you might think my house was a mess. To me it is joyful and inspiring.

For everyone who was a Girl Scout or knows a Girl Scout, tonights's puzzle is for you!
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Tessellation Tutorial?

My recent post about Tessellations has been one of the most popular posts I have even shared.
I don't know how many of you who read my blog are quilters.
I don't know how many of you would like to learn how I do this.

If you are interested in a free mini tutorial about making your own Escher type tessellation quilt please leave me a comment.

If there is enough interest I will do a tutorial soon.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Tessellations from The Colors Of My Life series

In reality all the quilts in this series qualify as tessellations since they are made up of squares.
One definition of tessellation is fit together without leaving any spaces.

The quilts I will feature are those where the shape of the design element forms a tessellation.
I will also share some where the design element comes close to creating a tessellation but doesn't quite.

The design formed by the four patches of individual colors in this quilt are NOT a tessellation. I had to fill them in with the one patch of a different color.

Each unit of color tessellates in this quilt. Each unit is made up of 18 shaded squares of a color. I wanted this quilt to be square so there are partial units along the edges. I could have continued them for full shapes.

This design is similar to the previous one but the units do NOT tessellate. They had to be filled in with the 4 gray squares.

The simple crosses form a tessellation in this quilt alternating black, brown or gray for every other cross.

When you first look at this you may say the shapes here do NOT tessellate. Keep looking and see if you CAN find the shape. It may help you to see the tessellating shapes if you squint or take off your glasses.

If you can not find it now look at the photo in gray scale and I think you WILL be able to see it. There are light shapes and dark shapes that tessellate with each other.

I used the bird cut for this puzzle because it is a shape that tessellates.
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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Tessellation quilts by my students - Rerun

One of the most popular posts on my blog is my students tessellation quilts. I am rerunning it in case you missed it.

I came up with a way of doing interesting tessellations. The students didn't sew them together, they fused them to a background. This allowed them the freedom to create shapes that would be next to impossible to piece.
I am showing you several without names. When I am teaching it is difficult to get time to take photos, much less get the names recorded. If anyone sees your work please let me know and I'll add your name to it.

These are all works in progress. The students get enough information to finish their work and also to be able to repeat the technique again with different shapes, colors and sizes.

This particular tessellation looks like birds. Generally I suggest just cutting and playing and eventually you will come up with something you like.

The artist who used tessellations most was Escher. One famous tessellation by him consists of birds that change to fish as the design progresses across the surface.
The shape doesn't change - just the details he has drawn/painted on them.

I hope you can see how interesting this piece is in spite of my poor photography. When rushing to get things photographed I don't have the skills nor time to get the best photos but I still like to record students work when possible.

This work is by Suzie McCormack and she has already chosen a background/border fabric.

Tessellations are a very interesting process, fun and so much easier than they look. I have also seen some instructions to do them that make them super difficult and something I think that most people would avoid at all costs!

There are several pieces in my The Colors Of My Life series that are tessellations designed simply with squares.

The choice of a puzzle tonight was easy - birds and with a bird cut!
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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Quilt from Olympics Past - One Woman's Dream

I remember quilting this quilt at Hilton Head Island during the Winter Olympics of 19??

I find it quite interesting that both quilts have Dream in the title. This was not an intentional thing.

I developed this technique for doing six pointed stars without struggling to sew into corners. It gives you a lot of options and can be done quickly. No Y seams! Since many religions use the six pointed star I had hoped to hang this quilt in places of worship of different faiths at celebrations by family and friends.
I never pursued the idea, but I still think it is a good one. It could then be documented on the back with labels explaining about the celebrations and where it hung.

If you enlarge this closeup you will see more six pointed stars formed by the quilting. Coming up with an appropriate quilting design was a challenge.

I had just got my first pair of blended bifocals and quilted a good size section of the quilt. When I looked at it with my other glasses I realized I had not quilted it any where near where I thought I was quilting it. I had to take out a lot of machine quilting stitches.

I haven't used the United States puzzle cut for a while and this seems to be a perfect time as I cheer on our athletes.
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Monday, February 22, 2010

I'll See You In My Dreams

This is the tentative title for a piece I am currently working on.
It is a real challenge. I think this is my Olympic effort quilt.

Choosing the quilting designs and the thread to use had me stopped. It was layered and ready to quilt but I couldn't decided how to quilt it. I often come up with solutions to quilting problems as I take a daily walk.
Today as I was finishing my walk the title came to me. We'll see if this will be the final title.

I was pleased when I came up with the flame quilting design for the star. I threaded the machine with a heavier variegated thread, changed to a 90 Microtex needle and found I couldn't get the thread through the needle. That should have been a warning to me - but no, I just put in a 100 Jeans needle and was able to thread it.

I started quilting and the thread kept breaking. I went back to the Microtex needle and took it out of the machine, threaded it and put it back in the machine. It worked fine for a while and then the thread would break. So I'd have to pull out a few stitches, rethread the needle by taking it out and start over. On this close up you can see how many threads I have to tie off and bury. You can click on the photo for a close up view.

I finally realized I was using Jeans Stitch thread which is too heavy to free motion quilting on a quilt with cotton batting. But - I persevered and finished the star section. I am happy with the results.

To quilt the squares in the corners of the star (and also for the rest of the quilting in the quilt) I changed to one of my favorite quilting threads, Oliver Twist in a olive gold blend. It was so much easier to work with and I can thread the needle without removing it from the machine.

I was able to use a similar quilting pattern in the inset triangles, just oriented to the short sides of the triangles.

I used a wavy pattern in the narrow borders.

I do not plan all the quilting for a quilt before I start quilting it. I quilt one section when I have an idea for it. Then I study it and decide how to quilt the next section.

I will finish quilting the remaining squares and triangles. Hopefully I will come up with a quilting design for the final borders before I get ready to quilt them.

What else but a star cut for star puzzle.
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Sunday, February 21, 2010

Quilting Natural Florida II - more birds

These are the final bird photos from the show. There were a lot of other wonderful bird quilts but my photography left a lot to be desired so I won't be showing those!

Egrets by Maureen O'Doogan

Happy Together, by the Lovin' Spoonbills by Susan Slaton

Roseate Spoonbills by Sally Pierce Freeburg

Rosy and Bill by Rebecca Douglas

Roseate Spoonbills makes a beautiful puzzle.
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Friday, February 19, 2010

Quilting Natural Florida II - Flamingos

I don't think there is a more recognizable symbol of Florida than the flamingo. I am featuring the flamingo quilts from the show on this post.

Fla. Mingo is by Beverley Hilton from Gainesville, FL. She has used a variety of techniques to achieve this iconic Florida quilt.

Flamingo was made by Mindy Marik from Brookville, Ohio.

The hanging of the show was very impressive. This section contained the bird quilts.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Quilting Natural Florida II

This is the quilt made especially for this exhibit that is at the entrance to the show.

This is my friend Jan Doudna with her quilt. It had a place of honor at the entrance to the show. I have known Jan for years and she took a lot of classes from me in Wisconsin. I am SO proud of her. The quilt is so impressive.

This is Jan's story about the quilt:
"LaChua Sunset" is a vibrant purple and gold quilt. The LaChua Trail on the north end of Paynes Prairie in Gainesville is the winter home to thousands of Sandhill Cranes. Janet Doudna of Ocala created this 55-square-inch quilt that represents sunset on the trail as the cranes settle in for the night.

We were fortunate to see a lot of sand hill cranes as we drove to Gainesville and back. In another month they will be returning to Wisconsin.

Sunset Roost is by Phyllis A. Cullen from Chico, Ca.

This is really a wonderful show and I'll be sharing more images in the days to come.

I hope Jan doesn't mind that I took a little liberty with the shape of her quilt to make it fit the puzzle dimensions. Of course I had to use the bird cut!
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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

How far would you drive for lunch?

Today I had lunch about 45 miles from home.
It was so worth the drive.
We drove north towards Micanopy to Blue Highway - a pizzeria.
From the outside you would never guess how wonderful the food is.
You can see my friends Jan and Bill standing outside. They know the very best places to eat, see the most interesting things and are people who's company I always enjoy.

Inside it looks like a typical tavern. It was so crowded on a weekday for lunch that people even ate outside where the temperature was in the 40's. Just wait until you see the food and you will know you are someplace special.

Bill always orders the Antipasti Plate. The presentation is wonderful and everything is fresh and appealing.

Jan and I each had the Chicken Rustico Panini and the Tuscan Bean Salad. Take my word for it, it is out of this world. If it were closer I assure you I'd eat there at least once a week.

They serve the best pizza around. I'm making myself hungry just writing about this.

We were on our way to the Quillting Florida Natural II show in Gainesville. I was so impressed with the variety and depth of the work. If you stay tuned you'll see photos of the show in later posts.

On our way back home we made a short stop in Evinston at the post office/general store. It is on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.

Bill's Antipasti Plate is tonight's puzzle. Enjoy!
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