07 Oct

Shroud

About a year ago the United States was slogging through a government shutdown. I went to DC and sat for a small while deconstructing an American flag as a metaphor for what I saw our congress doing. I blogged about it here. Since then, I have used those flag parts for several art quilts. One was as a base for “Dominant” which was shown in SAQA’s regional show Tarnish last May.

I haven’t shared my second piece as yet because I decided to submit it to Quilt National. Today, I found out that one of the two pieces I submitted was accepted (yay!) and so the other was rejected (also yay because now I can share it!).

DeathShroud_detail web

Death Shroud for Democracy” is constructed of a deconstructed flag, used clothing, and a vintage sheet. It should be obvious that it references the Shroud of Turin. Death Shroud expresses my frustration and disappointment with the state of American politics particularly since 2010.

Death Shroud web

I probably should have more to say about this piece, but I’m not sure I need or want to put it into words. I suspect everyone can have their own conversation with it. As for the other, somewhat related, piece that DID get into Quilt National, we’ll have to wait until May 2015 to see that one.

26 Sep

Quilting Arts!

IMG_9484

The October/November issue is in stores now, and I have not one, but two pieces in it! QA gave Dinner@8 Artists a nice write up and features seven of the 33 pieces in the show. My Selfie was one of the seven. I’m pleased that they included a detail photo as well as the overall piece since my quilt is so much about the myriad fabrics that make it up. I went to the framing store to pick up some artwork today, and one of the ladies there is also a fiber artist. She had already read this issue of QA and recognized my work. We talked about the piece a bit, and she hadn’t realized that it included a square from every fabric in my stash. I was VERY brief with my statement, so maybe I should have written more. Or maybe all those fabrics will be a secret to uncover while enjoying the patchwork.

IMG_9478

The exhibit will debut at the Houston quilt show in October/November. I plan on going with my friend Deborah and am looking forward to not only talking to people about the show, but meeting other quilt artists whose work I admire. I love putting names to faces, so if you’re going to Houston too, let me know.

As an extra added bonus, one of the “Breast Pockets” I made for Melanie Testa’s project is featured in the magazine too (as are pockets by friends Natalya and Vivien)

IMG_9481

And if that’s not enough, yet another friend, Lorie, is a featured artist in the same issue! Obviously, this issue is a must-buy, collectors item.

27 May

A Quilted Saga

Friends following me on Facebook and Instagram have seen these photos, but not a lot of the story behind them (though I did blog a bit here — and it’s worthwhile to scroll to the very first post at the bottom about the genesis of the quilt). Here are the gory details!

In late 2002 I started working on a quilt somewhat in response to the 9/11 attacks. It was to be a king sized Service Star and I pieced and appliquéd most of it while my husband was deployed on and off for the next year+. I hand quilted most of it, but then life got in the way and I set it aside.

Service Flag

Trapunto, Broderie Perse, and embroidery, oh my!

Service Flag

In 2004 we moved and I joined a group of ladies that met every other Friday to have breakfast together and work on hand stitching projects. I picked up the quilt again and came close to finishing it before moved again. By the time I unpacked it during hubby’s fourth Iraq deployment, I had moved on stylistically.

To go with the sheers

Having embarked on The Army Wife series at this point, I considered how I could bring this into the fold. Inspired by so much subversive stitch and gallery-worthy embroidery, I decided to add embroidered bumper sticker platitudes and a shadowy Uncle Sam.

Service Star WIP (detail)

It worked in my mind, but after many, many, hours into it, I didn’t feel like it was coming together. I’m loathe to just throw the whole quilt away given the hours I have invested in it. But I felt (and still feel) like it should have just had the shadow figure and none of the distracting embroidered flags and sayings. However, I can’t really remove the embroidery because of all the guide lines below it. I tried some blending stitches, and set the quilt aside for another move and another year.

Untitled

I considered stretching the whole thing like a canvas and painting over it, but I realized I would hardly be able to get it out of the house, let alone into a vehicle to take to a gallery or anyplace! Finally, last week I decided that I was over this quilt. It wasn’t doing anything but hanging over my head. It was too late to call it an heirloom and put on a bed somewhere, and with all the “edgy” embroidery, it just looked overworked and tortured. I thought practical thoughts about what sells and where my work might fit in to that sphere. I love my “Suck It Up and Drive On” quilt and others seem to enjoy it too. It also fits in thematically with so much inspirational wall decor on Pinterest.

Untitled

So I decided to take drastic measures and I not only painted my quilt, but I cut it up into sizes I could mount on standard canvases. I plan to stitch and paint some more, adding some nice bold stars on some and the Suck It Up phrase on others. They will make what a friend calls “edgy Americana” wall decor. And I will have one monkey off my back.

Interestingly, I just read an article on Ragged Cloth Cafe this morning about creativity and fugitive artwork.

14 May

Dinner@8 Artists Exhibit 2014

LaflammeSelfiesm

I am happy to finally be able to share this quilt, “Selfie: a portrait of the artist as her stash.” It was made for, and has been accepted into, the Dinner@8 Artist’s 2014 exhibit “Reflection.” The exhibit is an annual one that shows at the Festival of quilts in Houston and is curated by Leslie Jennison and Jamie Fingal.

I began this project not really knowing if it would work. I have several other things in the works that I didn’t want to take time away from unless it was for a good cause, and I just didn’t know if I could pull this off. But, I liked the idea of playing off the popularity of a Selfie as a modern self portrait, and the idea of my peculiar fabric stash being a reflection of myself. I shared a few peeks early in the process on Facebook, but here’s how it all came together.

Selfie test

 

I took a lot of photos of myself (with my phone, of course), in the car, in the mirror, with the phone turned toward me… Duck lips were mandatory.

 

Selfie 1 pix2Selfie test 1

 

Next, I cropped the best photos and tried several degrees of pixellation in Adobe Photoshop. I ran these by my trusted friends who helped me decide which was most easily recognizable as a selfie. The photo on the left won, but those squares represent 2″ blocks which were definitely too big. Even 1″ squares on the right were too big for the facial details.

 

Stash strips

 

Once committed to the project, I spent four days cutting strips from each fabric in my stash and sorting them by value. I’ve been contemplating making a scrappy Trip Around The World quilt with my whole stash, so I cut with that secondary project in mind (no, I haven’t gotten to it yet).

 

Stash grid bw

I took lots of photos with my phone along the way, turning them black and white to check my accuracy. I put the strips in bags marked with corresponding value numbers to keep everything sorted and tidy.

 

Stash crazies

 

What makes this portrait special is that I’m a fabric omnivore. The concept wouldn’t be the same in all solids, batiks, or natural colored hand dyes. I had to cross my fingers and hope that it would still read as a portrait even if the fabrics were this wacky combination of hand dyes, reproduction prints, novelty prints, florals, Kaffe Fasset favorites, and whatever else that makes up my stash.

 

Selfie Grid WIP

 

My road map was a grid I made in Adobe Illustrator. I decided to use 1/2″ squares for the facial details, 1′ squares for most of the quilt, and 2″ squares for the distorted foreground area and flat background. I assigned a value to each pixel in my photo which would correspond to a bag of strips of the same value. Initially I thought I could pick one strip randomly from the appropriate bag and make this a kind of charm quilt as well. As it turned out, once I got going, it helped to use warm and cool colors strategically, keeping generally to green eyes, red lips, brown hair, and so on. And, while large, my stash isn’t large enough, so I had to use many fabrics several times.

 

Selfie WIP

And here it is as I built the face. I had a grid on my design board, but I didn’t include seam allowances, which rendered it pretty useless.

I chose to quilt the piece very simply as I wanted all the pixels to have equal importance. I didn’t want to try any overworked thread painting or end up with a nose that stuck out. This is all about the fabric.

I am so pleased with the final quilt! It was a great relief to see that my initial idea actually did work, and having it chosen amongst all the other fine art quilts for the show is good validation. Please, visit the blogs of the other accepted artists and look forward to posts on the Dinner@8 blog in the coming months. Maybe we’ll even see each other in person or in the cloth in Houston this fall.

 

25 Sep

Screeching Halt

So, I’m working on a new piece and it requires lots of 2.5″ squares. If anyone remembers making Watercolor Quilts at least a decade ago, the key to keeping all your little squares in order was to fuse them to a gridded backing, then fold between the rows or columns and sew. I’m doing the same, and I thought that it might be a good idea to go the extra step and cut those folds open so that I could press my seams open for less bulk.

Binary Back

 

 

Yuck! It looks so sloppy, and it was such a pain to press open without melting the interfacing. I only did four rows and then I decided that it was a bad idea and I’d take tidy bulk over less seam integrity and plain old ugly (even though it would be hidden inside the quilt and no one would ever see it).

Binary circle

 

On the other side a few circles got caught in the seams. With just a few horizontal seams sewn and the circles appliquéd by hand, it will be easy to take off the offending circles and reposition them. But, the combination of the chopped circles and the sloppy back just ticked me off the night I sewed them and all of a sudden I completely lost momentum on the project. Silly, I know. At least I knew enough to walk away. I slept on it and things looked perfectly surmountable in the morning. I’m taking a short break to make a costume for my daughter (and loving that I can sew together a pretty profi looking skirt and blouse) and I will be back at the little squares soon with renewed enthusiasm.

13 Aug

Zeitgeist at the World Quilt Show

Zeitgeist

 

This is the weekend! See Zeitgeist in the cloth at

World Quilt Show New England

August 15 – 18
Thursday, Friday, Saturday from 10am 0 6pm
Sunday from 10am – 4pm

At the Radisson Center of New Hampshire
700 Elm Street
Manchester, NH 03101

 

There are lots of other special exhibits, and vendors at the show too.

Unfortunately, I’m not up for the long drive to get there, but hopefully some more notheasterly friends and family will go be my stunt doubles.

18 Apr

Regenbogen

Several years ago, I had a wonderful experience quilting a zig zag quilt top I purchased from fellow quilter Wanda, and gave to my daughter. She’s wrapped up in it with our cat right now.

Just recently, I wanted to make a quilt for my exchange student daughter’s Sweet 16, and zig zags seemed to fit the bill. Even starting this one from scratch, it was a pure pleasure to make.

Zig Zag!

I quilted each colorful stripe with variegated rainbow thread and it blended so perfectly no matter what colors were present.

Rainbow thread for the colored zig zags.

I used wool batting which was light and squishy and lovely to work with.
I love how squishy wool batting makes a quilt.

I received an adorable photo of my “hanai” (adopted in the heart) daughter looking all comfy snuggled in her new quilt, but I can’t get it to post here, so here’s my photo of it before it left home.

Finished Zig Zag quilt

10 Mar

Crafturday (8) with Quilting

I spent my Crafturday piecing. I spent my Thursday and my Friday piecing too. I’m making a quilt for a special young lady who wanted something with a rainbow. So, I decided that a rainbow zig zag with “modern” fabrics would fit the bill. As luck would have it, I was even offered a sample pack of charm squares from Windham Fabrics that looked like they’d play well with what I had in mind.

Sample squares!

I cut 5″ squares from my stash and arranged them in rainbow-ish rows. I had lots of purply reds and greens to aquas, but not much in the way of pinks, sky blues, or blue purples and I needed more white and grey (I’ve actually heard that hard core modern quilters buy these by the bolt!). So I did a little shopping here and in Austin. Stitch Lab is a charming little shop that stocks not a comprehensive collection, but a very nice selection of fabrics that would appeal to the hip sewist, lovely wool felt and plenty of cheerful notions for projects like aprons and bags. But I digress.

Squares ready to start.

I paired one square of each color with a grey or white for the stripe above and one with a neutral for the stripe below and sewed the pairs on a diagonal to make half square triangle blocks.

The cool zig zags

Once laid out on the floor, I could refine my arrangements. The HST blocks definitely look different than the 5″ charm squares without the neutrals mixed in.

Some warm zig zags

Sewing the blocks in columns and rows is easy and it was fun to see the sections grow. The new Cabana Blooms play very nicely with my stash fabrics. And, of course, there’s a bunch of Kaffe Fasset Paperweight in there too (six colorways!). It never ceases to amaze me how well Kaffe fabrics blend with almost everything else.

An interesting aside, I could really feel a difference in weight between the Kona cottons, the Free Spirit and Moda fabrics, and the Windham and Westminster fabrics. For a well used quilt or handbag, I suspect the heavier Kona, Moda, and Free Spirit would last longer, but on the other hand, if I were making wearables, I’d much prefer the drapier Windham and Westminster. I had no problem using the various weights together though, and if a fabric had a color and pattern that I liked I wouldn’t not purchase it just because it’s base fabric wasn’t as thick as something else. It was just an interesting observation I could make because I was using quilting cottons from many sources.

Zig Zag for J

A couple of days collecting and cutting fabrics, and a good solid three days sewing, and I’ve got a quilt top finished!

Zig Zag for J

I think it looks awesome. Now I need to decide how I want to quilt it.