Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

I'm so happy to get to be with my family in New Mexico for this holiday.  As much as I complain about the hubbub and chaos (and there's a lot of it), I'm just grateful I have such a loving family to generate it!

This is a piece of hand embroidery that has been my take-along project these last couple of months.  The leaf patter is one of Carina's.  She has a ton of fabulous embroidery patterns, you should check out her shop Polka and Bloom.  I used crewel wool embroidery thread (yarn?) and did a sampler of stitches in the leaves.  In the end, that thread was a bit thick for some of the stitches and leaves, but I think it turned out fun anyway.  It's mounted on stretcher bars with a layer of batting.  I'm not really thrilled with that method and don't think I'll do it again- it give an overall puffiness I don't really care for.

The writing says "Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower" which is an Albert Camus quote (according to wikipedia).  I actually like autumn much better than spring but the idea of falling leaves as akin to flowers makes me happy.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

WIP: Update on the Mandala

I've been working pretty hard on my mammal mandala lately and haven't really stopped to blog much!  Lucky for you that means you'll be spared a few intermediate in-process posts.  Inspired by something I noticed during one of Caryl Bryer Fallert Gentry's lectures, I decided I'd try to take pictures of this from the same angle at a bunch of different developmental stages (do I sound like an embryologist?).  I'm probably the last person in the whole of internet land to try it, but here's my very first animated GIF documenting my progress so far.

And, in case you want to take a look at it without all the flashing, here's the final frame alone.

I decided I wanted to quilt the animals first on a single layer of cotton batting prior to layering with wool batting and the backing.  I think (hope) it'll give a sort of faux trapunto look in the end, but we'll see.  I'm not going to cutaway around the animals, so I'll have to get all the background quilted down tightly!

I'm headed to New Mexico for Thanksgiving and want to baste the whole thing together on my mom's long arm (to hopefully avoid any dreaded puckers), so I needed to get the first round of quilting (with the single layer of batting) done first. I spent all weekend on it, and aside from pretty sore shoulders and upper back, it went ok.  Unfortunately, at some point I quilted over this flyer which must have fallen off my bulletin board.  I'm not sure if you can tell, but it's cardstock and is pretty densely quilted down.  Ripping it out (the flyer not the quilting) is on my list, but will not be fun.

Anyhow, wish me luck with the no puckering on the back!  I'm going to link up with Nina-Marie and Lee as usual.  Have a great week everyone!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Quilt Alliance Interview: Seymour the Coelophysis

I think I mentioned that the Walk in the Wild exhibit that originally hung at the Albuquerque Open Spaces Gallery was shown at IQF Houston this year.  During the show, Betty Busby arranged for all of us who had quilts in the Walk in the Wild and who were at Houston to be interviewed by the Quilt Alliance.  The Quilt Alliance is a group whose goal is to preserve, document, and share the stories behind our quilts.

They did three minute videos with tons of quilters at Houston, not just us, and you can see a bunch of fabulous ones on their YouTube channel.  I talked very excitedly about Seymour the Coelophysis, you can watch it here in case the embedding doesn't work.  You may have to turn up the volume a bit, it was kind of hard for me to hear on my computer.

If you ever find yourself with some spare time, I encourage you to check out the Quilt Alliance channel, you can find so many wonderful videos there.  Thanks so much to them for undertaking this documentation effort and to Betty and the other SAQA New Mexico people for arranging it!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

WIP: Thursday, Progress on the Mammal Mandala

I mentioned a couple weeks back that I've started working on my next large art quilt.  It features mammals of Oklahoma cavorting in a medallion. I showed the initial design for it here and have since been working on refining the design and color scheme.  I've learned a ton about vectors and adobe illustrator along the way (just jumped right into the deep end), and it turned out to be a great choice for this design.  I think vector-based designing will likely fit into a lot of my future work.

My new (to me) favorite color inspiration website is Design Seeds which is filled with fabulous color palette inspiration.  I love colors and tend to want to use them all, so it was new and challenging to try to start with, and keep to, a defined color palette.  After looking at bunches of them, the one I kept being drawn to was this one:

Succulent Hues, Design Seeds

Because of the fabrics I found, my palette actually ended up being a more saturated version of this (who's surprised there), but having it as a guide at least was really helpful.  I'm using a bunch of different fabrics: dupioni silk, silk-look polyester, hand-dyed (not by me) silk velvet, polyester velvet, some funny looking synthetic polka-dot stuff, some faux suede surface stuff (same thing I used on Seymour's bones), something labeled "crinkle satin", and hand-painted (by me) evolon (which nicely doesn't ravel).

For many of my animals, I exported the vectors from illustrator and used my Silhouette Cameo to cut them out, as in the picture of the prairie dogs below.

 For those cut out of silk or silk-look polyester I'm sealing the edges with the woodburning tool.  I discovered after much trial and error, I can't get the silhouette to cut velvet, so the animals cut out of velvet are all cut by hand.  The big animals are also all cut by hand since they're too big for my cutting mat.

I'm finally to the point of putting some of the animals onto the background piece here are the first three circles pinned up.  It gets more complicated after this since the animals start overlapping, so wish me luck as I try to fit the puzzle together!

In the last one you can see how big the whole thing is- I have a ton left!

I'm linking up (belatedly) with WIP: Wednesday and as ever with Nina-Marie!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Halloween 2013

Before it gets much later I wanted to share these pictures of my Halloween costume from this year.  I think I mentioned in a previous post that back in the mid '80s my mom made a Snow White costume for me and my sister, and a Grumpy Dwarf costume for herself.  We were going together to a costume party at IQF Houston, so she thought I should make a new Snow White costume to go with her existing Grumpy.

It was quite a bit more Halloween sewing than I've done for the last few years; the outfit consisted of a dress (with hand-drafted sleeves since the ones in the pattern didn't match the old dress) cape, detachable collar and hair bow.

Here I am trying it on at home during construction.

And here we are (me and my mom) at IQF.  I knew I wanted to wear my costume all day at the Quilt Show after putting all that effort into it, but I wasn't thrilled about wearing a black wig all day.  I decided to just dye my hair really dark brown instead.  I've never dyed my hair before (excepting one botched kool-aid experiment in high school), but it went ok.  It didn't turn out nearly as dark as I'd hoped, but it seems a little darker.  I got lots of sweet comments at the show and lots of poison apple remarks.  My mom couldn't see too well out of her mask, and it was pretty hot so she just wore it at the party.  I think this picture is as genuinely happy as I've seen myself in a long time.  We had a lot of fun even though we didn't win; the costumes that won were mostly clever costumes (rather than traditional ones).   In an effort to appeal to the judges, when it was my mom and my turn to be judged I  held up an apple, took a big bite, and collapsed dramatically to the stage.  Although the judges were unmoved, it was pretty funny; I landed with quite a bit more bang than I thought and my glasses fell off the stage all together.  My mom and some nice man came and helped me up.

All together a super fun Halloween!  I hope you guys enjoyed your celebrations.

Friday, November 8, 2013

in nomine Patris: Finished!

Today, more on my Text Art Quilt.  Without further ado, here's the final quilt.

in nomine Patris c. Shannon Conley 2013 24" x 29"

The text color isn't yellow but gold, the color in this picture is a bit off.  The next picture shows it more true to life.

My artist statement reads: "This quilt was inspired by medieval illuminated prayer books, specifically the Small Book of Hours of the Duke of Berry and the Book of Hours of the Marshal of Boucicaut. I’m drawn to the slowness of the text in these works, the deliberate nature of line and character which, when combined with the unfamiliar Latin, merge to form pictorial prayers. Such a contrast to the transient, careless treatment we so often give text today. What sentiments are worthy of such lasting treatment? Adoration, supplication, meditation? Here, in tribute to the home of my heart, are rhythmic excerpts from the Psalms of David, “O Lord, thou wilt open my lips and my mouth shall declare thy praise” [Ps 50(51):17] and “I have lifted up my eyes to the mountains, from whence help shall come to me” [Ps 120(121):1].

The piece is constructed from fabrics of all types, commercial cottons, brocades, satins etc.

in Nomine Patris, detail

in Nomine Patris, detail

One of the things that most intrigues me about Medieval illuminated manuscripts is the way that all of the excess space is filled with what you might call really really beautiful doodling.  I feel like this is one of the things that makes an illuminated manuscript style feel so amenable to interpretation in quilting.

in Nomine Patris, detail

Of course a primary feature of illuminated manuscripts are highly detailed Initials.  The D here is a combination of fabric (the red and gold), three different silkscreens (green, silver, and blue) and quilting with about seven different colors of thread.  The leaves in the border are silk screened (green and blue) and fabric (brown/green).

in Nomine Patris, detail

Two more initials, both of these entirely free-motion quilted.

in Nomine Patris, detail
 And the mountain.

This piece has a special place in my heart and will likely be the first in a series.  I'm really drawn to this style, and hope it transmits the feelings to the world that I get when I see it.  It's going to be shown as part of the Text Messages show at a variety of venues (in addition to IQF) so I'll post when I know more.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Last day to vote at Bloggers Quilt Festival

Hey everybody, just a quick reminder that today is the last day to vote in the fabulous Blogger's Quilt Festival.  There are tons of fabulous quilts in a bunch of different categories, and many thanks to Amy for organizing it all!


My quilt is in the Art Quilt category and has also been nominated for Viewer's Choice (I was so shocked and excited about that!!)

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

in nomine Patris: The beginnings

Now that the SAQA Text Messages show has opened I'm thrilled to show you one of my heretofore unshared art quilts.  For anyone lucky enough to get to go to IQF Houston, you may have seen it already.  This is one of those quilts I probably would have written a million in-process posts about, but now I'm just going to split it in two. Today I'm going to talk a little about the planning, design, and construction, then show some final pictures on Friday.

When I saw the Text Messages call for entries, the first thing I thought about was medieval illuminated prayer books, and I decided to make a quilt in that style.

I have a lovely introduction style book called A Treasury of Hours which shows selections from many different books of hours and which was a great source of inspiration since it contains pages exhibiting many different illustrative styles.

The pages contain prayers or Bible verses (usually in Latin) and pictures, usually the pictures illustrating something related to the prayer, or a scene from the life of Jesus or something else inspirational.  Many of the pages start with a common Bible verse, for example, Psalm 50 (51):15 "O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise." followed by a verse or prayer specific to the page.

I had to decide what the theme of my quilt prayer would be, and knew I didn't want to try to feature people.  The verse I kept coming back to was Psalm 121:1, "I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help."  My quilt features those two verses together, beginning with Psalm 51:15.

And of course, with that text, the design had to feature my mountain (Sierra Blanca).  I drafted the design for the quilt by hand and in photoshop. Here's an early stage example.  The large initial D is a scan of a sketch, the small swatch on the right is a scan of a page of the prayer book (I liked that style), and the text is just on the computer.

For many of the design elements, I made fused vinyl silkscreens.  For example, I cut the lettering out of fusible vinyl using my mom's Silhouette machine, and adhered it to organza, then screened it onto the fabric.  Here I'm tediously removing all the middle bits of letters. 

I couldn't do any of the screen printing until the background was all pieced, which meant I had only one shot at the printing! It was kind of scary since many of the screens overlaid several layers of machine appliqued fabric.  This meant alignment was both tricky and critical and that there were many bumpy seams/edges to print over.  In some cases, there were multiple screens for different design elements (one for each color) that all had to line up.  Here's a picture of the background after one round of screen printing.

The mountain is raw edge applique, and all the purple and blue and brown definition in the snowy part comes from judicious use of Shiva Paintsticks.  

Stay tuned- next time, the finished piece.