Friday, 13 February 2015

IQF 2014 Post 7: Modern Quilts

These are about a third of the quilts that were in the Modern Quilt Guild's exhibition at Festival 2014. They are the ones, like all the quilts in this series, that really caught my eye. For whatever reason. I kept the MQG exhibit quilts to last because I knew QuiltCon would be following soon after and I thought it might be a nice lede (not 100% sure I'm using that word right). There are a lot of pictures this week, and some detail shots of a good few quilts so I will try and keep the writing short and sweet!

Amazonia by Nathalie Bearden

Amazonia by Nathalie Bearden, a minimalist take on the mystical jungle of her childhood dreams. There is different quilting styles in each of the layers. The quilt was machine pieced and free motion quilted. It reminded me of those block diagrams you learn to draw in geography class, I loved those.

Detail of Amazonia by Nathalie Bearden

Anni Albers' Orange Chair by Martha Peterson

Anni Albers' Orange Chair by Martha Peterson was made for the Seattle Modern Quilt Guild's Binary Challenge, a two colour quilting test. An email ad for Anni Albers' designs sparked some exploration and inspiration from Triangulated Intaglio IV. The lone orange chair made its own way in to this red and white quilt using HSTs in a 'non-traditional setting with irregular negative space'.

City Center by Angie Henderson

City Center by Angie Henderson is a medallion quilt, although the design is Modern Log Cabin by Art Gallery Fabric Staff in Generation Q. Magazine Jan-Feb 2014 edition. The tiny little borders make me the happiest, and then the inserts of perpendicular rectangles and squares within some borders come a close second!

Disruption by Barbara Lockwood

Disruption by Barbara Lockwood is here to play with your mind. Seriously, how did she put this together and not go barmy? It's more than a little bit brilliant. My photo has not done justice to the colours. The inspiration was a traditional Chinese porcelain design, and from Barbara's fascination with tessellations and Escher. To disrupt the orderliness of the pattern and create energy Barbara changed the colours and allowed her quilting to flow from that.

Entropy by Elisa Albury

Entropy by Elisa Albury was conceived from the shapes and negative spaces created by dropping a container of ice-cream sprinkles. And from a distance it did indeed make me think of hundreds and thousands! (Is that an Irish term for sprinkles?) This quilt is fun.

Detail of Entropy by Elisa Albury

Funky Junk by Renee Tallman

Funky Junk by Renee Tallman is just great. It's made of drunkard's path blocks and a quilt top that was sewn together and cut apart 7 times. It got thrown in the bin twice out of frustration. But finally, Renee made this beauty inspired by another quilt she saw once 20 years ago. Renee thinks Funky Junk is now acceptable and she quite likes it. There is some beautiful handstitching too! That is some mad-ass tenacity right there, and that's what makes this quilt my favourite.

Detail of Funky Junk by Renee Tallman

Grand Canal by Casey York, quilted by Ann McNew

Grand Canal by Casey York and quilted by Ann McNew is kind of bland I think, not the quilting - that's spectacular, but the perspective use crossed with the total minimalism is new for me so I'm including it here. The perspective play is based on work of garden designers of the 17th century and this vista is from the gardens of Versailles designed by Andre le Notre. In the 17th century apparently they were all into having it look as if their landscaping extended into almost infinity. Casey has a book on using applique to create illusions of depth if you're interested, more details at the link on her name above.

Detail of Grand Canal by Casey York, quilting by Ann McNew

Homage by Jacquie Gering

Homage by Jacquie Gering is based on the colour principles of Josef Albers (nice to have him now and Anni above!). This quilt illustrates the principles of making one colour appear as two. Jacquie has used Albers' book Interaction of Color as a touchstone while she's grown as an artist so this quilt is aptly named. I enjoyed spending time at this quilt and following the different colours around and watching how my perception of them changed. Maybe more fun to do than describe...?

Only three more quilts lads, we can do it!

Off Center by Charlotte Noll

Off Center by Charlotte Noll was an entry into the MQG's Riley Blake Challenge. The front is appliquéd and I love the spiral in the centre of the crazy whirlpool of colour lightning that's happening here. It's like something that pops out of a cartoon characters head after they've been biffed with a mallet.

The White Rainbow by Shruti Dandekar

The White Rainbow by Shruti Dandekar was a quilt I was really looking forward to seeing in person and it didn't disappoint. I love the idea of writing the rainbow in braille on white fabric and then quilting it trapunto style (never quite sure how to use trapunto in a sentence). Shruti also added some coloured quilting lines among her matchstick quilting so when you get up close and personal with the quilt there is a rainbow hiding there, as well as the slightly larger one in the binding.

Detail of The White Rainbow by
Shruti Dandekar

Tune in Next Week by Chawne Kimber, quilted by Pamela Cole

Finally, we have Tune in Next Week by Chawne Kimber, quilted by Pamela Cole. Another MQG fabric challenge, this time from Michael Miller. The fabric reminded Chawne of Sputnik and early TV antennae and so a mid-century mod design was born. Improv log cabins of irregular sizes 'bounce' around the quilt top and elsewhere 'playful deconstructions of architecture' take place. I'm not a fan of mid-century mod design but in this quilt I clearly see the playful television vibe and I really like the changes in line thickness throughout, just like above. It draws me in and makes me want to stay.

That's it, we're done. I've really enjoyed doing this even if it might have been overwhelming to read? Those of us who aren't going to QuiltCon get to wait for the photos of the quilts that are hanging there to start showing up next weekend. I'm interested to see all the directions people have been heading in, though I guess I have to remember it is a curated exhibition of those directions.

Sunday, 8 February 2015

IQF 2014 Post 6: Appliqué

This week is appliqué! I've had several ideas for quilts over the last year and all of them seem to require appliqué to pull off. Something I swore to myself I'd never start, too fiddly, too much perfection, etc, etc... I'm still on the dubious side. I have little to no idea how my patience will last or what the durability of me-made appliqué might be like. But there is only one way to find out, and to get these ideas out into the real world!

Thankfully for you lot, you get to see other people's appliqué quilts right now. Ones good enough to be in a big show. So let's sit back and enjoy this.

Hudson Trader by Colleen Wise

Hudson Trader by Colleen Wise is for the quilter's sister, made of her favourite fabrics and named for her username. The spherical drops of fabric gobsmacked me. I wish I had a better photo for you. Colleen used machine piecing, appliqué, painting, and machine quilting to achieve these effects. I assume the light and shade of the spheres is what's painted, the circles are appliquéd, and everything is pieced and quilted as you would. But I'd like to be looking at the quilt in person while I thought about this, and not this photo. This is why people go to shows over multiple days!

Not Hiding, Not Revealing by Sharon Hightower

Not Hiding, Not Revealing by Sharon Hightower is inspired by the Valspar Paint ad, you know the one. Her feisty chameleon is taking on three colours courtesy of raw-edge collage and machine quilting. Now, I'm not sure what raw-edge collage is, but I'm guessing somewhere between appliqué and that mad tiny almost dust bits of fabric under tulle (is that tulle?) where you get the crazy landscapes? I really like the non-squareness of this quilt. It also takes me a minute each time to see the chameleon, but he's actually really detailed.

Libby's Leaves by Laura Wasilowski

Libby's Leaves by Laura Wasilowski was inspired by Libby Lehman's Leaves in Living Color and uses fused appliqué and machine quilting. There are some lovely close-ups of the quilting and the stitching around the appliqué on Laura's site at the above link. The colours on this one really got me, as did the shapes within shapes and unusual layout.

Wanna Cookie? by Teresa Duryea Wong

Inspired by David Taylor's Maynard quilt, Teresa Duryea Wong has captured her dog Chip's attentive response in Wanna Cookie? as well as his greying muzzle and bright eyes! Hand appliquéing hundreds of pieces of fabric and then using machine quilting to define Chip's fur and bone structure Teresa wanted to capture his calm, happy personality. This is an appliqué technique that does fascinate me. It appears simple, but as you consider how you would have to divide up the subject into smaller shapes without losing their bone structure, then choosing colours and colours gradients that keep perspective and depth, light and shade, before adding the final details of quilting back in on top of this again. It must be very complex.

Spring Has Come by Akiko Kawata

Spring Has Come by Akiko Kawata. This is closer to traditional appliqué quilts, while still having unexpected elements. The background is made up of sinuous strands of various yellows and there are appliqué circles of purple bubbling there way across the quilt also. The pansies stand proud, each different but all somehow uniform. Like a beautiful flower show. There's a gorgeous dark satin stitch around each petal of the pansy, and metallic thread in the centre.

Spring Has Come detail

Finally, we have Tessellating Wings by Wendy Butler Berns. This quilt was one of the first to catch my eye when I got to the hall. The Monarch wings twisting in on themselves to form an almost chrysalis, against the pale blue but not static sky. Techniques used include machine appliqué, machine quilted, embellished, and painted. Wendy drew a sketch of a butterfly wing and then tessellated it to see what would happen. She wanted to push herself design wise and also used oil sticks for the first time in her quilting. Wendy teaches the technique she used to make this quilt on Craftsy, you can find out more on her website at the link above.

Tessellating Wings by Wendy Butler Berns

I think when I started quilting I had an idea that all appliqué quilts were those very 19th century perfectly turned out appliqué quilts, with the sort of abstract bowls of fruit and hearts and flower motifs. They seemed very proper and not at all like me (messy, impatient, too many curse words). Seeing these quilts at Festival has made me realise what I should have figured out by myself, appliqué is a skill that can be bent to serve whatever purpose you want. Have fun and make what comes to mind. I'm still not convinced on durability ;)

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

My Personal FMQ Challenge

The best way over a fear in sewing is just to jump in, I've spent the months eyeballing a new technique in outright fear, panic, and awe. Considering it, looking at others work, deciding mine is never, ever going to match up regardless of practice, and shuffling away to leave it for a few more months before beginning the eyeballing over again. But each time once I've jumped I've loved it, I've made mistakes, I've cursed, and ripped seams, but I've felt invigorated and alive, and like I could conquer anything just because I tried.

Free motion quilting is probably my longest running sewing longing/fear. So I've challenged myself this year to do weekly practice, and to just free motion quilt some stuff. The weekly practice is going to add up to a QAYG quilt, another technique that's long had me baffled, and again the only to really understand it is to go through it. So I bought a layer cake of Botanics and of Silent Film by Kona, and each week I will quilt a 10" square with whatever design I fancy.

I first tried to start this challenge last September, but I only got one square in before it fell by the wayside overtaken by things I felt I should be doing, wasn't doing, and therefore became even more urgent to get done. I'm not sure this is the best way to improve. It's possible that taking one design and practicing it over and over would make me really great at that one design, but I'm hoping that this will teach me to loosen up and get into the sort of flow of the quilting.

FMQ seems to require a sweet spot between not thinking too much and not thinking too little, kind of like playing music. Also, the instant you think, 'hey, I'm doing great right now' is the instant you lose it and it all goes to shit. For some unaccountable reason my cheap, basic machine has taken to FMQ like a duck to water with minimal to no tension issues (I am touching wood as I type this).

The biggest problem is that I have no way to regulate my stitches apart from, you know, me! Some days I do great, some days I do terrible, I'm heavy footed and slow handed and there's billions of tiny stitches. I've also discovered there's no point in me marking the design because the foot will block at least half of it and I'll mess up while peering to see where I'm supposed to go next. My concentration is poor, which means the design often starts great but ends up getting woollier and woollier.

It is lovely though, I get sort of lost in it and then the reward is the lovely texture at the end that you get to stroke. I think I'll probably revisit some of these designs again. I really like the spiral squares in the yellow and the echoing leaves (though they kind of look like flames, and that's what I was chanting while I stitched it). I'm going to stop now, because I'm starting to sound quite mad.

I'll be linking up with WIP Wednesday over at Freshly Pieced!