Play time!

Play energizes us and enlivens us. It eases our burdens.
It renews our natural sense of optimism
and opens us up to new possibilities.
Stuart Brown, MD

While back in upstate New York last week, I had the opportunity to visit the Strong National Museum of Play.

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Having spent an afternoon immersed in Sesame Street, Star Wars, train sets and a pretend grocery store, I found it difficult to return home and not remember what Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “It is a happy talent to know how to play.” And so, I took some time to hike to a beautiful view not far from my new home.

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Inspired, I returned to my studio and got down to business. One of my first projects was to quilt Aspen III. I had written about  Aspen II a few weeks ago. Aspen III is a foot square version where I chose to highlight different aspects of the image with my FMQ. Here you can see the results even though I have yet to bind it. I am especially pleased with my treatment of snow in this version.

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I am really enjoying quilting with Hobbs wool batting and silk. It is allowing me to really play with texture options in my quilting. Currently, I am working on another piece which will become part of a series on the West Coast of Ireland. This is a window from the cottage that I quilted and wrote about several years ago and that I was able to photograph in detail on trip in late 2014. You can see from this photo of a section of the piece that creating texture through selective stitching is playing a large part in this composition.

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Can’t wait to play some more!

 

Re-evaluating batting

Since I moved to the western side of the U.S., I have mainly been using cotton batting in my art and charity quilts. Most has been purchased at the local JoAnn Fabrics, primarily Warm & Natural  and Mountain Mist. While satisfactory, I found them a bit heavy to move around while quilting. I remembered using wool batting back in NY but could not remember the brand.

I put out a query on a Yahoo group I belong to and asked what people use. Some art quilters used cotton, others used wool, and a few mentioned a felted batting.  I did some research on the felted suggestion but found quite a few comments on the stiffness of the batting. Since I do not use a long arm and need to be able to easily compress my quilts as they pass under the arm of my machine, I was hesitant about how I would like it. In addition, I could not find it packaged in a small amount so auditioning it would have been a sizable investment.

Instead, I decided to revisit wool batting. I had one piece that I had brought out west and made myself a small cotton muslin quilt sandwich to free motion quilt upon. I had come across a Shamrock Design video by Lizzie Leonard a few weeks ago that I really wanted to try. So, I decided to use that on my sandwich.

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I found it quite difficult to move the sandwich as I quilted the design. The batting was quite thick – almost an inch – and I did try lessening the pressure of the foot to ease glide. However, the resistance was intense. While the texture created by the high loft was appealing, I couldn’t visualize quilting a larger piece with the same issues.

Instead, I ordered some of Hobb’s Tuscany Collection 100% wool batting which advertised a loft of 1/4 – 3/8″. It was available in a crib size package so, in contrast to the felt batting, I could sample without a large investment. I created a similar size sandwich and used the same shamrock design.

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With the lower loft, the sandwich glided through my machine without a problem. I could easily manipulate the fabric and liked the resulting surface texture.

My next step was to try the batting with one of my art quilts. Several weeks ago, I had asked my friend, Julie Brandon, at Red-Dog Enterprises to reprint the image I had used in my art quilt, Aspen. The piece sold so quickly I barely had time to enjoy it – a nice problem! Julie reprinted several of the image on silk habotai for me and I used one of those images with the Hobb’s batting and a cotton backing to play.

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The finished piece, Aspen II, is about 11″ x 13″ and went together like a dream. I think I have found my batting of choice. While not an issue since this is an art quilt and won’t be subject to washing, the packaging does say that the batting is washable. I probably will test that out before I use the batting in a lap quilt. I did use a steam iron on this quilt without a problem and fused the batting to the silk with MistyFuse before I quilted it. The batting held up fine through these processes.

I am looking forward to  next quilting my larger Morning Walk piece and a third quilt in the Aspen series using the Hobbs’ batting in the next few weeks .

Linking to Nina Marie’s Off the Wall Friday so you can see what other fiber artists have been up to.

Joy About Joy!

In 2014 I made a trip to Aspen, Colorado with my daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter. It was my granddaughter’s first trip to real snow and 2014 was a banner year for snow in Colorado. While her parents skied, I got to play with granddaughter. One of the photos that I took during that trip became the basis for one of my favorite art quilts, “JOY!”.  After applying some filters for special effects in Photoshop, the image was digitally printed on cotton for me by Red Dog Enterprises. I then used appliqué, hand stitching, and machine quilting to complete my project.

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“JOY!” has been creating quite a bit of joy for me recently. It was included in the Spring 2015 issue of the SAQA Journal. A few weeks ago I was notified that “JOY!” had been juried into the upcoming Sacred Threads exhibit in the Washington, DC area in July. Finally, this  week I learned that “JOY!” has also been selected to be part of the Sacred Threads Traveling Exhibit.

Needless to say, I feel as joyful as my granddaughter pictured in the art quilt. I hope that you will have the opportunity to see “JOY!” during its travels over the next two years.

A Special Week in the Mountains

Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods.
Wash your spirit clean.

John Muir

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I have had the pleasure of watching my grandchild for the past week while her parents skied in Aspen, CO. Okay, I would hardly term a week in a condo in Aspen a retreat in the sense that John Muir speaks of. But, there are places in and around Aspen that can touch you in a very special way.

Some of my favorite art pieces had their start as photos from those spots. And so, whenever I could slip away this week or manage a walk with my grandchild, I had my camera out and was snapping away. The weather throughout the week was changeable so I took advantage to capture different lighting situations. I am hoping that some of the photos will provide the spark to build upon my last Colorado piece, Aspen.

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Aspen

Here are a few of the photos I took during the week:

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I will keep you posted on my progress!

Linking as always to Nina Marie’s Off the Wall Friday.

Seeing Anew

The real voyage of discovery consists,
not in seeking new landscapes,
but in having new eyes.
Marcel Proust

It is a new year and so many use the change in calendar year to start afresh. A few deep breaths and visualizing a positive journey in 2015 can energize and motivate. As I played in my cleaned-up studio this past week, I experienced a rush of good energy and even excitement. A few weeks earlier, I was unsure of a next project. Now, my plate was tantalizingly full. Awesome!

I was reminded of Proust’s quote on seeing with new eyes with respect to one of my UFO’s (unfinished projects). Two years ago, I took some photos of a stream in Colorado, played with images in Photoshop, and had the results printed on cloth. One particular version just sort of hung around the studio. I had plans to mat it…but just never got to it. It didn’t excite me enough to go farther…

Well, you guessed it. This past week that changed. I finally  framed it. I have been glancing at it all week and becoming more and more pleased with it. It is now handing in my office till it finds a new home…..another goal of this coming year — marketing my work more actively.

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May you all see with new eyes, breathe in good energy, and have a great year!

 

Linking to Nina Marie’s Off the Wall Friday.

Aspen

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2014
13″ x 11″

In Private Collection

Aspen is digitally printed on silk and machine quilted.

I have always loved studying the bark of trees. While on a winter walk in Aspen, Colorado, this aspen tree caught my eye. The grain in the bark was a work of art by itself. I quickly snapped a photo to bring home and adapted it in Photoshop for printing on silk. The colors are the actual colors of the tree and the day.

A Busy Week

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Just a glimpse of some of my working area this past week. Buried beneath  multiple projects is Journey which is patiently waiting for its turn to be quilted. Quite a bit was accomplished and Journey will soon be an active project again!

art quilt interpretation of Aspen tree trunk

Aspen

Aspen is my latest art quilt. It is adapted from a photo taken earlier this year on a trip to Aspen, CO. After some interpretive work in Photoshop, it was digitally printed for me on silk by my friend, Julie Brandon, owner of Red Dog Enterprises. It is one of my smaller pieces, 11″x 13.5″, but a definite favorite which brings back many memories of a special trip.

hand stitched pouch

Another project, finally completed, is in a series of pouches that I am making using vintage hankies. This was finished with a heart shaped button. I am particularly pleased with some of the detail work on the back of the pouch, including a tiny pocket.  😀

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With these two pieces off my work table, my next objective is the final two pillows for Pillows and Pages, my current class with Karen Ruane which will be finishing up in the next week.

Linking this post with Off the Wall FridayPlease check out what other artists have been up to this week.