Saturday, September 5, 2015

50 Shades of Brown

With summer upon me and some weeks off from teaching, I had many a project in mind.  However, I also had some trips planned for which I wanted to have some projects to keep me busy on the plane or at the beach.  And so, I looked through my stash for inspiration and decided that the one piece of brown silk that I had purchased at a quilter's estate sale would be my starting point.  I only had a little left because I had used it several times before.  The remains were somewhat random in size and not large in quantity.  This created an opportunity to stretch my creativity and use what I had on hand to make a small series.  I wanted a small project that was portable and called for some hand stitching.  I decided that if I made all of the pieces using a similar color palette I could hang them together and create the illusion of a larger work.  And so my ideas took shape.

I made nine little pieces that were 6 X 6 inches each.  I limited my color palette so I could concentrate on collage and stitch.  It was an easy breezy summer series.

Here they are:

Each piece includes some commercial cottons, cotton batiks, scraps from my stash of silks, upholstery or other random fabrics that met the color palette.  Finally each piece had to include a piece of the brown silk that was my inspiration and a piece of vintage doily from my increasing stash.

Then, since I already had the fabrics selected and lined up on my cutting table, I made a 10" X 10" collage of fabric.  I think of them as one chief and 9 little Indians.  Each of them was mounted on a canvas that I painted with several coats of brown paints and then covered with some Lumiere gold.  A couple of coats of UV protective sealer from Golden acrylics and voila.  To finish the back I took some vintage sheet music and painted it with gesso and then gave it a couple of washes of Titan Buff.  It made the paper a bit stiffer and made a good backing.

Here is the 10 X 10:

On September 12th I will have my first artist reception where I am hanging my work with a group of artists that form an Artists' Cooperative locally.  I am very excited to be joining this group and show my work publicly in such a nice setting.  I feel that this decision has changed my focus and will help my push my creative process and I build new pieces to show each month.

For now, this is my large piece, made of many small pieces - which is the essence of quilting itself for me.  Thanks for stopping by the blog.  Please feel free to leave a comment.  Have a fantastic day!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Rust Never Sleeps

And the rust goes on.  I am intrigued by all the rusty things I see these days.  I decided to start saving the tops of canned food and to rust them.  It took a while but eventually I had some large, medium and small can tops.  I also had some hummus, tomato paste, black bean burgers and a variety of other meals.

So the process started with some scraps of hand dyed fabric as a base.  I then put the tops in a vinegar and bleach solution and the rust formed pretty quickly.  The cans had some protective coating (except the coffee can) and  so only the edges rusted leaving me with various sized circles of rust.

From there I stenciled, stamped, cut, arranged, rearranged, stitched, collaged and stitched.  I made one piece to start and then used the smaller scraps to make a 6X6 piece that I mounted on canvas.  Below are my photos.

9" X 21"

Here is a closer look.  You can see the rusted circles that were there first are cut up and rearranged and the stamped circled that were put on near the end are whole.  The rest is mixed media and ephemera from my stash.  

I made a smaller piece with the scraps that were less than 3" in size and mounted that on a canvas that I painted with 3 or 4 coats of various colored paint and then sealed with a UV protective sealer.  

6" X 6"

Paper, tea bag, bits of scraps and lace, buttons and a collected shell help keep this piece feeling vintage and simple.  I mounted it on a 2" thick 6 inch square canvas.  It gives it nice weight.  

Thanks for stopping by.  Please feel free to leave a comment.  Have a fantastic day!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Inspired by Scraps

Okay, so I am so happy with the rusty fence.  Who would have guessed an old rusty thing could inspire such creative ideas.  As I was cleaning up, I use that term rather loosely, from finishing a rusty quilt fence, I found a scrap of it on the cutting table.  And so this next piece was born.

The overall dimensions are 10X10 inches and I mounted it on a 2 inch thick canvas that I painted with layers of metallic paints in gold and pink halo gold from Lumiere.  The collage elements include paper that I rusted with the fence, snow dyed scraps, painted fabric, hand dyed cheesecloth, a hand dyed vintage crocheted piece that had rips on one side, a piece of old bedspread that I hand dyed and some ribbons and scraps from my stash.

I raw edge appliqued the pieces down without the assistance of any type of bonding web and everything behaved quite well.  Then I did a bit of free motion quilting.  Finally I added a few stitches by hand using cotton floss.

I sewed on a few vintage mother-of-pearl buttons from my collection and TA-DA!

It was nice to revisit the practice of collaging and incorporating sheers and scraps.  It has inspired me to continue on my next piece.  Which hopefully, I will be blogging about soon.  Until then,  stay dry - the northeast has had a rather soggy weekend.  I'm looking forward to the return on the summer sunshine.

Please feel free to leave a comment or question.  Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Cut the Fence and Fly Away

Obsessed with my rusty wrought iron decorative metal, I have completed another quilt from rusted fabric.  This one really brings me back to my randomness.

Dimensions 12 " X 32"
This quilt started with a single piece of fabric that had been rusted on my decorative piece of metal.  I then cut it and arranged it on a  piece of white muslin that been covered with Mistyfuse.  I butted the edges together and simply zigzagged the edges.  Super easy.  

 I added some hand dyed brown bird silhouettes and fused them into place with some Mistyfuse.  Then I dug through my collection of vintage mother of pearl buttons and added some of those to keep the rusty, vintage theme going.  Plus, who doesn't love buttons?!

I love the texture and the bleed you get from the rust.  It's the same piece of metal but it makes something different each time I use it.  As you will see in the upcoming quilt pieces.  I have already started arranging my next piece.  I am so inspired by the rust that I am having a constant creative flow of ideas of what to do next.  Don't you just love when that happens?

One more quick peek at this piece and I am off to other things. The title of this quilt was inspired by my daughter.  She graduated college about a year ago and went off on an adventure.  Every time I talk to her I am so happy to hear about how much she loves her life and her new discoveries.  

Thanks for stopping by the blog and feel free to leave a comment.  Please be sure your email is in the comment so I can reply.  

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Open The Gate

After a couple of years of participating in a local craft fair, I found myself not looking forward to the process of preparing for another summer of producing quantities of small saleable items.  I missed my art quilting for sake of making art and creating from my imagination.  And so the opportunity presented itself and I have once again changed direction in my artistic journey.

One day last summer I bought a piece of rusty wrought iron decorative something or other.  I had no plan for it.  None.  It hung out in my garage all winter - although why I decided to keep a rusty piece of metal indoors still puzzles me a bit.  Until one morning on my way out for work I saw it and realized I could use it to rust fabric.  This is something I had never done before (at least not intentionally) so I went for it.  It pretty easy.  Mix water and vinegar and put some fabric in it - I used a ziploc bag.  Then lay the fabric over the rusty stuff and walk away.  I checked it the next day and Voila!  a beautiful piece of rusty fabric.  And so of course I made more and now I look for rusty things everywhere - which is not weird at all!

So here it my first piece in what will undoubtedly be a series of rusty stuff.

 Dimensions 24 1/2" by 42"
 The base piece is a combination of the rusted fabric, hand dyed brown and blue grey, a snow dye that I loved and didn't want to cut up (so that worked out) and a piece of shibori dyed fabric that didn't entirely work the way I had planned.  But it was perfect for this piece.  After I had quilted the base with both straight lines and some free motion quilting that were drawn based on the shape of the fence, I added the blue sheer fabric.

The blue overlay was made by photographing the fence and enlarging the shape until it was the size I wanted for the sheer layer.  This took a while and I used some large pieces of plain newsprint that I had to trace the design in the final size.  Then I measured very carefully to the fence posts would be straight up on the quilt and pinned the newsprint to the base quilt over a layer of sheer fabric.  I free motion quilted the fence, carefully tore away the newsprint and then trimmed the excess fabric away to leave only the fence shape.  It was a bit tedious but I think the end result was worth it.

Here is a close up of the snow dyed fabric and how the sheer allows you to see the texture and rust that lies below it.  As always, I wish I was a better photographer and it looks better up close, but I think you get the idea anyway.

I like the way the shibori adds a little movement to the burgundy piece of fabric.  I free motioned the burgundy and dark brown and straight line quilted the other sections.  I will say that after a few false starts and some bonding with my seam ripper, the rusted section went from free motion outline to straight line quilting with a walking foot.  The rust, although adds great texture and interest, can really be a pain to free motion quilt.  

I am so happy with this quilt and I named it "Open the Gate" because I feel like I have opened up the summer to a myriad of possibilities instead of working within the box of preparing for a show.  I now can go anywhere I want with my art.  I plan to make it a summer of traveling.

Thanks for stopping by the blog.  As always, I welcome any comments.  For now I am going for a walk to look for some rusty stuff!  See you soon.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Rock Cairns and The Journey

I spent my morning and better part of the afternoon at a funeral for a wonderful man.  The kind of event where it's impossible to have a dry eye in the house.  He was just shy of 94 and along with leaving behind a wonderful family, he left a lot of positive energy in the world.  And so, I dedicate my quilt to him as a symbol of The Journey.  I can only imagine what it takes to get to the age of 94 but I'm sure there were many blessings and challenges along the way.

And so here it is, finished this afternoon.

The piece uses some denim jeans that so many of us wear when we hike and even when we don't.  They are an ordinary part of our extraordinary days.  The patches of denim are the people we meet along the way.  Each one having it's own color, degree of wear and ability to bend.

The stones are part of my collection of hand dyed fabrics from last summer.  They are in shades of rust and terra cotta.  I like the way they contrast against the color of the blue denim and remind me of days of hiking in the American southwest.

The upper right hand corner has a piece that has been woven from some fabric that I painted with metallic paints.  I am not sure why it occurred to me to rip apart some fabric and weave it but I think of it now as a symbol of how we are all connected.  Woven together as part of something bigger than ourselves.

Finally, I put a label on the back with my official 2015 symbol.  It is a lotus blossom.  It symbolically represents being fully grounded in earth, yet aspiring towards the divine. Which, when I think about it is a great metaphor for the life of Ed Flaherty.  

Thank you for stopping by my blog and reading this far along in my post.  Please feel free to leave a comment.  Please take a moment in the near future to express gratitude to someone who has made a positive difference in your life.  You'll be thankful you did.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Journey of the Seven Chakras

Happy Almost Spring!  I say this as I am enjoying a snow day from work and have just come in from shoveling snow from the third snow event this week.  After a seemingly long departure from making my small art quilts, I have returned.  Yay!  I am so happy to have returned to my studio for the sole purpose of creating without the pressure of producing.

Over the past few years I have begun practicing yoga, which I have come to love.  In fact, with the empty nest came the opportunity to redo our daughter's bedroom and I made it into a space for contemplation, meditation and healing.  I have become a Reiki practitioner and now I have a beautiful space for this practice as well.

I wanted to make the space welcoming but quiet.  Which is different than sparse.  It's uncluttered and peaceful.  So, it with great joy that I created this piece and it is now hanging in that quiet space.  In fact, usually I photograph my work and blog it well before it is hung up.  However, I was so eager to get this  on the wall that I almost forgot to post it.  So, Here it is!

The dimensions are 18" X 37" and the background is made from some much loved family jeans.  I used the pockets, inseams and belt loops for the purses I made last year and so I had a bunch of pant legs folded up in a bag.  I just had to use them.  With the variety of denim colors I tried to make a shading effect as if there were light coming from behind the rock cairn.

I fused the denim to a gray solid to keep batting from popping through and stitched the edges with a zigzag and black rayon thread.  The rocks are a mixture of my own hand dyed fabrics, one commercial batik, one snow dyed fabric and some hand dyed flannel that someone gave me a few years ago.

The title "Journey of the Seven Chakras" embodies three purposes.  First, for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts there is the rock cairn left by so many people who travel along hiking trails.  For me it signifies the journey of meditation, yoga, Reiki and life.  Second, rock cairns are also used for the practice of meditation and show balance and alignment.  Finally, there are seven rocks which corresponds with the seven chakras, or energy points along the spine that are used for the practice Reiki healing.

In the top corner I added a few pieces interesting fabric.  The spiral was dyed, soy-wax batiked and then over dyed.  The cheese cloth was hand dyed.  There is one piece of commercial fabric that I over dyed.  The other two pieces are silk, one dupioni and another type of silk that looks like burlap but is so soft and has a nice natural luster.

The goal with this piece was to keep it simple and quiet.  I love how it fits in my space.  Thank you for stopping by and checking out my work.  Feel free to leave a comment.  Until we meet again, namaste'.