Art Quiltlet: 26/52

This week marks the halfway point of 2016. It’s been kind of a brutal year for the world so far, hasn’t it? I’m afraid it’s going to get worse, too. This week’s quiltlet has nothing to do with current events, though. I enrolled in Stitch and Slash on Craftsy to get more ideas on manipulating fabric, and this quiltlet is a portion of the larger practice piece.

Doors art quiltlet at amyhoodarts.com

I went for a secondary color scheme and threw in some satiny fabric just to make it interesting. I had to buy a new, sharper seam ripper, and that made things a bit easier, but it’s still more uneven than I’d like–I don’t mind the fraying edges, but I had very little control over my ability to keep the edge straight and more or less the same width. I’m sure it just takes practice.

The challenge, of course, is to use this technique to create something that reflects my own aesthetic, and not the instructor’s. Now that I’ve learned the technique, I plan to play with it some more to make it my own. I’m not interested in re-creating someone else’s vision; never much have been.

I forgot to take a picture of the larger fabric before I cut this bit out. So here it is, missing a piece.

stitch and slash fabric

This is the first Craftsy class I’ve purchased and taken. At $20, it was about the cost of a book, I’ve learned the technique, and I don’t have a book clogging my already overburdened shelves. I watched the parts that I wanted–I haven’t watched the bits on turning the fabric into a pillow because I don’t feel the need to make a “thing” when learning a new technique; process for process’s sake is fine with me. It worked out well for satisfying the urge to experiment with something different.

Art Quiltlet: 25/52

Home? art quiltlet at amyhoodarts.com

This week marks one year in Annapolis for us. But a big part of my heart is missing New England and in particular, my little patch of backyard nature and the proximity to the ocean. I have neither here. I knew I would miss it a lot but I think I still managed to underestimate how much. This week’s quiltlet incorporates paper maps and reflects my homesickness. This time of year the whip-poor-will in our backyard would be calling out every night at 9pm; barred owls would be having midnight conferences; the towhee’s song would light up my days, and the veery’s warbling downhill melody would signal dusk. Wood thrushes and warblers, salamanders and snakes, peepers at the pond. Favorite beaches only minutes away, with salt ponds full of fish, crabs, and jellies; days spent playing in saltwater and mud. I am sad. I miss it all.

I don’t hate it here, but I don’t love it either. It just is. There are certainly more opportunities here than in Rhode Island, for all of us. There were things we had to adjust to, things that needed to be changed (my daughter’s school, for one), definitely things that give me pause, but also things to be grateful for, like neighbors who can watch children in a pinch, and whom I can help as well.  When people ask if I like it here, I simply say, Some things are better, some are worse, and some things are just plain perplexing, and I’m sure that’s true of everywhere.

Design Tip: Cropping

I was asked to talk about my quiltlet process at Sunday’s Modern Quilt Guild meeting, and since I work a little larger and then crop down, I wanted to give a visual of how that can change a composition. Since my quiltlets are all 6×8″, I cut a cropping window out of a larger piece of cardboard. This way, I can isolate 6×8″ compositions and decide what I like best. I also have a smaller window template (for smaller compositions, obviously!). Sometimes I’m working with a finished composition already in mind, but using this template is really helpful when I’m working intuitively. It can help you discover compositions you didn’t even know were hiding within your design. These view finders can also be helpful when you’re inspired by a particular design out in the world and trying to isolate part of it to focus in on.

To demonstrate this process, I pieced an improv square.

improv pieced square, amyhoodarts.com

Before adding more surface interest, I took some pictures using the cropping windows. These are only a portion of the photos I took, as I wanted to remember all the possible ways I might want to enlarge this into a full-size quilt. I really love these colors together.

cropping example, amyhoodarts.com

This crop keeps the horizontal and verticals intact. But don’t just move the cropping window around; tilt it from side to side as well, to see possibilities on the diagonal.

cropping on the diagonal, amyhoodarts.com

cropping on the diagonal, amyhoodarts.com

I then added some surface interest in the form of circles and quilting, so the full piece looked like this.

circles and lines, amyhoodarts.com

Again, I took many more pictures than I’m sharing here.

cropping example, amyhoodarts.com

And again, some on the diagonal.

cropping example, amyhoodarts.com

cropping example, amyhoodarts.com

I love zooming in on one part of a design like this–the results can be so interesting. Using this tool allows you to explore different focal points. What works best? What is most interesting? What draws you in the most? Often I do quite a bit of sewing that doesn’t make it into the final piece, but that sewing was necessary to get to the final composition. It’s like research in a novel; the reader might never read that backstory but it adds to the story nonetheless.

Art Quiltlet: 23/52

Art quiltlet inspired by Mondrian, amyhoodarts.com

Mondrian is one of my favorite artists. Although I do like his earlier work too–and it’s fascinating to examine the evolution of his work, and how he reduced things to lines more and more until that was where he settled and stayed–this piece is obviously inspired by his well known grid-like works using black, white, and primary colors. The first time I saw a Mondrian in person I gasped out loud. (Imagine being rich enough to stare at your own every single day?!) The orderliness of a Mondrian is something I find very calming. This week, I needed some soothing grids. Thus, this quiltlet.

I began by quilting straight lines before I even began sewing on the black and primary pieces. Since I didn’t want thread color detracting, I sewed on each piece with matching thread, which made for lots of rethreading of my sewing machine to make this little piece! But worth it. And the back looks cool too.

Art quiltlet inspired by Mondrian, back, amyhoodarts.com

{Have you noticed? We are almost halfway through 2016. Wow.}

Experiments

I’m trying to work on something every day, and one day last week I was at a loss, so I just started stitching fabric together. A whole bunch of blues, because I somehow have more blue fabric than any other color. Not surprisingly, it began to remind me of the ocean. I experimented with free-motion stitching on just the fabric (versus a “quilt sandwich” of fabric, batting, and backing) to see what happened. It puckers the fabric a bit more, is what, even if you’re careful. So it gets texture-y. I added some paint after carving a quick wave-like stamp. I decided it needed a girl doing a cartwheel. She was happy to be back at the beach.

She missed the ocean at amyhoodarts.com

“She missed the ocean”

It might be a little bit busy… and you can see how the fabric doesn’t lay completely flat. Do I like that? Or do I mind that? I’m deciding. I’m experimenting. I stitched some words, too.

She missed the ocean, detail. amyhoodarts.com

I really liked this cartwheel girl.

She missed the ocean, detail, amyhoodarts.com

I wondered what she’d look like cropped all the way down so she was the main focus, so I made another, smaller, piece, this time in a meadow full of flowers.

JOY at amyhoodarts.com

“JOY”

This one is only about 4×6″.  And while I typically like to work, then crop down, next time I’m using French knots I’ll crop first, then add the French knots, just because they get in the way a little bit on the edges. Ah, but check out her hair! All of it, really–I like it a lot. Doing creates ideas and those ideas create more ideas. There is always something new to try when I’m feeling a little stuck.

Art Quiltlet: 22/52

locust art quilt at amyhoodarts.com

I’m feeling a little uninspired this week. I spent all last week taking care of a sick child, day and night, which reminded me why I had my babies early (goodness, I’m too old for sleep deprivation and full-time on-call duties). This culminated in a visit to the ER Friday night (a previous visit to the pediatrician being, ultimately, unhelpful) followed by an early morning car maintenance appointment on Saturday that had already been rescheduled once, so I got up and went. For part of the three-and-a-half hours that I was waiting, I sketched the leaves of the tree I was sitting under (thankfully I could wait outside, as it’s finally stopped raining every day). I’m pretty sure it was some sort of locust, although not having the entire tree in front of me anymore, I’m not sure what kind. So when I decided to practice my free-motion script along with free-motion sketch, I just wrote locust.

Sometimes when you are very tired and worn out, simple is best. So this week’s quiltlet, reflecting the energy drain that was last week, is simple.

My daughter is better now, and that exhausting month of May is over. June holds the end of school, a graduation, a dance recital, and two weeks of getting the eldest to his summer bridge program. But in between I hope to find some days to do absolutely nothing.

May Reading List

How to Treat Your Mom at amyhoodarts.com

Part of my daughter’s Mother’s Day gift to me.

May has been long. And tiring. And full of Mondays. But here we are on the very last day, school is almost over, my middle child has turned twelve, and here are the books I finished in May.

As Close to Us as Breathing, Elizabeth Poliner
Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets and Philosophers, Leonard Koren
The Color of Water: A Black Man’s Tribute to His White Mother, James McBride
Casting Lots: Creating a Family in a Beautiful, Broken World, Susan Silverman
The Mistress’s Daughter, A. M. Homes
Amy and Isabelle, Elizabeth Strout

Art Quiltlet: 21/52

art quiltlet at amyhoodarts.com

I am making so very much that doesn’t get posted here, although most of it gets shared on Instagram. This quiltlet uses another piece of gelli-plate-printed fabric from last Monday’s printing session. I wasn’t happy with the way this print turned out (that blue shadow around the plant is because I didn’t get enough of the paint off on the first print with paper), so I decided to use it as practice, filling in the space with free-motion pebbling. Here’s what it looked like before I cropped it.

leaf print + texture before cropping, amyhoodarts.com

I would do things differently. I’d eliminate the outline stitching and just use pebbling. I ended up with some billowing in some of the leaves. And I’d make a better print to start. But this is why I like these low-risk quiltlets. It’s built in that I’m learning things and/or figuring things out as I go. Sometimes you don’t know what you like until you do something you don’t like. Not that I don’t like this piece; I just think it could be improved.

The back looks pretty cool too.

back of art quiltlet, amyhoodarts.com

It’s got me thinking about what I can do with negative space….

Art Quiltlet: 20/52

leaf print art quiltlet at amyhoodarts.com

I bought myself a Gelli Plate because while I love gelatin plate printmaking, I don’t have a place to store them here. Our fridge is side-by-side and flat shelf space is hard to find. So I decided to try the Gelli Plate and I wasn’t disappointed. It’s a good option. Monday I picked some plants, gathered some textures, and had myself a little printmaking session using fabric. This quiltlet came from that.

I felt like sitting down and stitching by hand yesterday, so I did. It’s been a week of Mondays and I wanted that quiet soothing-ness that comes from handwork. The result is pretty subtle. Kind of calm. Just what I needed.

This is week 20. Twenty! For week 10 I shared a picture of the first ten all together, so here’s a photo of quiltlets 11-20.

art quiltlets 11-20 at amyhoodarts.com

I like the variety. I like that I’m trying new things. I like how some of them very much reflect the week in which they were made, and some reflect how I was feeling (ready to tackle a new technique? or needing a bit of a respite?). I definitely like that I haven’t missed a week yet.