Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Sharing, Caring and Cooperation

I was so surprised and thrilled this week when I received an email from Stefanie on Etsy. She had included my Spacewalk Bunnie in her beautiful Treasury "When I Grow Up"! She asked her three year old daughter what she wanted to be when she grew up, and this treasury was dedicated to her answer.

Thank You very much Stefanie, for including my quilt in your adorable Treasury. To be included in the company of such established Estians was quite an honor. Working together as a community of artists on Etsy, is the very meaning of cooperation.

Spacewalk Bunny is a cooperative effort I have with Nakisha at bluedogrose on Etsy, too. Nakisha has graciously allowed me to translate her Little White Rabbits into quilts. They have been so much fun to work with. The whimsy and imagination make these quilts perfect for a little one's room. Can't you just see them used as the inspiration for story time? Or, do you have someone special that collects bunnies? What a great addition to their collection!

I'm so fortunate to be be working together with Nakisha, again. I am going to add to the LWR series with three new quilts.
I'd like to share that Nakisha has spent over a year creating paintings of Little White Rabbit and his friend Dutch Rabbit. She has had them professionally printed into the beautiful Rabbit Tarot. Each image is a recreation of an original watercolor. What a labor of love!
I am in the process of designing hand quilted carrying pouches for the cards. Each pouch will have a rabbit themed design. The pouch is sized to hold the Rabbit Tarot and with the deluxe set, a reading mat of organic flannel. I'll feature the pouches in my next post!

Thank you for visiting. See you next week :)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Think Outside the Box

For a long time now, I've wanted to expand my quilt collection to include techniques that would read more as art than a traditional quilt. My desire was to blend my traditional hand quilting background with a contemporary, fiber art twist. I thought outside the box of traditional quilting, and this is where I landed! Who would have believed that the answer would come to me while I cleaned my studio.

These fiber art pieces had their beginnings as the scraps left behind after I squared off my fabric with the rotary cutter. I had just finished a quilt that had different fabrics with a white theme and I had a million little strips. With a little adjusting to my new found treasures, I was on the right track. I looked down on the stack of fuzzy white mini-strips and was a bit disheartened. The tone on tones that worked so well in the queen sized quilt, just looked like a sea of white. Flat and uninteresting. So I dug a little further into the basket and found some pretty sky blue pieces. I striped them up and added them to *the mix*. That was what it needed. A little color variance to give the collection some depth.

But it still lacked the 3-dimensional feel I was looking for. This was solved with a look into the basket that sits by my sewing station. I found little bundles of threads...all tangled together. I picked through them, sorting out the whites and metallic. I added the thread bundles to my fabric scraps and there it was! I was so excited.

The next task was going to be securing the thread and fabric bundles. All those little pieces!!

I needed a backing....
something to anchor the little pieces to. A piece of plain white muslin would do. I carefully laid all the little strips onto the muslin and pined like mad! Then to the sewing machine. I attached the darning foot and off I went.
For the first time in my quilting career I didn't have to worry about tying threads and burrying them at the back. I left the tails and it just added more personality to the....what do I call my new fabric creation?

I then cut the new fabric creation and assembled the little quilts the way I have for years. I added a needle turn applique tree trunk and soft sculpture branch, covered in snow, to the "Snowy Oak".
To "Believe in Magic" I incorporated a needle turn applique dragonfly and hand embroidered the verse.

To follow this new idea of an art piece, I made stretcher frames and mounted the quilts around them instead of using a binding.

I'm very happy with my decision to think outside the box. I have four more quilts on the design wall and have been having so much fun with this new technique.

Thank you very much for stopping by and I hope you visit again next week.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Custom Bunny Portraits

I have been working with Nakisha at bluedogrose for the last few months, recreating her beautiful Little White Rabbit watercolors into lovely quilted wall art. As I was working on New Blue Ribbon I was thinking, "Wouldn't it be fun to quilt a bunny portrait!" There are many quilters that specialize in portraits, but I wanted to try something different. I wanted to compose a story....with background elements having as much weight as the subjects.

My friend Ellen has two adorable bunnies, named Hudson an Honey. Hudson is charcoal grey and white and Honey is the color of...well... honey. Elle had the most precious photograph of them snuggling nose to nose on flickr . They were laying on the prettiest rag rug and I knew the composition would make a beautiful quilt.

Isn't this great! This is the original pic.

The kicker was going to be recreating the rag rug. If I didn't get that just right the quilt just wouldn't work. So I spent two weeks (a three tries) to recreate the rug as I saw it in Elle's photo. I used the needle turn applique technique to create the brightly colored rag strips. After they were applied, I embroidered the connecting threads with floss. I did it. Even the tassels! Now to step two.

This is the rug that took three tries!

I contacted Ellen and asked if I could recreate her photograph to fabric. She gleefully gave her permission and I was off to unite two beautiful bunnies with their favorite rug.

Hudson and Honey are applied to the quilt with needle turn applique as well. This seem to be my technique of choice these days. I think it's because it's so portable. Hudson's white body was applied first. I then overlayed the black. Honey was a challenge to do. She is a fluffier bunny so I cut some very low loft cotton batting a quarter inch smaller than the applique. I used a glue stick to hold the batting to the applique and tacked them both to the quilt body at the same time. To finish it off I embroidered their outlines in 2 strand of floss, in a medium grey.

Hand painting the eyes and the ears were last. I think I'm a glutton for excess stress because this is always the last step. One mistake and I'm in big trouble. I crated the dog and bunny so I wouldn't be bumped, took a deep breath and with brush in hand, started painting. I wait until the quilt is finished , because the eyes and ears bring the bunnies to LIFE!

I finished the quilt with a small black inner border and and outer border in a primary stripe to coordinate with the rag rug. I sent the quilt off to Ellen. She was very happy with my interpretation of her photo and added the quilt picture to her flicker collection.

A special thank you to Hudson and Honey for being fantastic subjects.
To my dear friend Ellen, thank you for the opportunity to play with your bunnies and to recreate your photo to fabric.

Bunny kisses

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Easily Connect To Your Creativity and Find Your Muse

Creativity can be such an illusive thing.

At times it's oozing from every pore and then, quick as you please, it's all dried up like the Mohave Desert. This week I had one of my dry spells. I was just finishing up a custom quilt and intended to plan my next quilt. NOTHING. I couldn't find a single creative thought.

So I decided I would take a walk through my family history for some inspiration.

My great grandmother was an artist. She painted in oils on copper in the Hudson River style. Her paintings are so serene. Cows grazing in the field, bubbling brooks and willow trees swaying in the breeze. You can almost smell the grass. Occasionally she would paint florals in watercolors. This medium allowed her to express her talent for detail.

My grandmother was a quilter. She created pieced quilt tops that were perfect. She collected fabric...as all quilters do...and when she had the right combination of colors out came the big, grey tailors scissors and her box of patterns. Gram wouldn't have liked this age of rotary cutters. She was in her zen place when she was cutting. After the quilt top was finished, it was time to bring out the quilting frame and begin the hand quilting that would fill her winter days. Her quilts were a labor of love and she was a master.

My mother was a seamstress, though she'd just tell you she liked to sew. She was quite well known for her pill box hats and stunning wedding gowns. The detail of her gowns was amazing. She covered the buttons by hand and crocheted each loops herself so they would fit perfectly around the buttons. There was always a sea of white on our living room floor as she added the laces, seed beads. sequins and pearls... ALL BY HAND! She made a name for herself with her creativity and attention to detail.

To help me find my creativity, I called on these artistic women. I went to my living room wall and got lost in great Grandmother Elizabeth's paintings. Then off to the bedroom to spread across my bed, the quilt Grandma Sarah made for me when I was a little girl. I finished my search for creativity with an old and tattered photograph album. On it's pages I saw the beautiful wedding dress my mom made for her only daughter.

Each of these creative women touched me and I was aware that they were now my muses. I began to hear their quiet guidance and filled my design wall with ideas for many new quilts.
Though they are no longer here with me on earth, their spirits are alive in the beautiful things they left behind.

Thank you