Wednesday, May 25, 2016

A Peek at the Art Group Meeting

Meg's tree house
I'm beginning to think of my "Third Mondays" art group as "Third Mondayish" because of our flexibility in adjusting the Monday we meet on to accommodate scheduling conflicts among our small membership. Such was the case this month, which saw us moving our meeting to this week - the fourth Monday of the month. Even so, one member bowed out at the last minute, prompting me to grab my camera so we could at least share some photos with her. Which means I have photos to share with you as well! First up, Meg is still working on additions to her tree, first done up in sketchbooks or ipad apps, then enlarged where she starts auditioning fabrics and thinking about technical issues of execution - doors and windows that open and a railing that sits out from the house to add children behind. This will be a tree house - you can see how it will sit in the tree if you spot the small mock-up laying on it in the upper right. She also had a full-size drawing of a girl to sit in the swing.

Cheryl's Heart

This might look familiar. Our newest member, Cheryl, had brought this to her first meeting looking for help. With our suggestions, she went home and successfully finished it, with additions of quilting and paint sticks applied in areas that needed emphasis. Compare to this "before" shot here.

Hanging rod for the heart quilt

She sewed tabs at the top for a dowel, one she covered with paper towels she uses to mop up during dye sessions and then sealed with decoupage. Even under close inspection, one would never suspect one was looking at the humble paper towel.

Cheryl's marbling experiment

She also brought these pieces which were experiments in marbling. Not perfect or spectacular, she noted, but still maybe worthy of doing something with. They represent three steps - first fabric that was dyed and turned out very light, then marbling over that, and finally doing a more controlled marbling technique to form the branches and leaves. Cheryl said it made her think of peacock feathers. I found this so delicate and with an oriental flavor.

A different way to work with the marbled panels

With a bit of altering orientation and overlapping to line up the branches, we presented this to her. It will be interesting to see where she goes with it from here.

Kavi's quilt is coming together

I used the deadline of the meeting to once again push me along to have some progress to show. I made my final fabric selections and cut the last pieces for the baby quilt and got 3 sections sewn so I could talk about the personal challenge of moving away from matchy matchy.

Sea and Sand ready to sew down off the design wall

Back home, I'd gotten all the pieces up on the design wall. Yes, there are other fabrics awaiting better formation of ideas encroaching but I didn't want to clear them off. I pinned the pattern diagram to the side of the area where the pieces were going up, my road map telling me where and which direction each letter labeled piece should go. Within those stacks of various size pieces, I'd allowed some variations in. For instance, if there were 8 of "A", 6 might be a dark blue and the other two a lighter blue. Most of the blues were not quite fat quarters so I just cut pieces with as little waste as I could muster until the fabric was gone and moved on to the next fabric in the stack. I'd occasionally check the photo in the pattern for distribution of light and dark to have a better idea of what I should be cutting, and I was very pleased at the distribution of my various fabrics as they went up on the wall.

The selections while cutting, though, did not proceed without a little pushback and unease from that conservative voice in my head. This section is a good example of the push and pull. Although the dark blue isn't navy and (perhaps not so much in this photo) does have a leaning toward green, I was uneasy pairing it with blues that were more aqua in nature. Then there was the muted one on the left that was very teal in comparison, so much so I nearly didn't include it. Yet in smaller proportions, it works really well. As for those two batiks, I hadn't intended to use both, was leaning towards the one on the bottom even though much of its background was very teal. Maybe the one with the bluer background would work better but certainly the two together would not be a good choice. But I was really warming to this "sea and sand" theme suggested by Hilary, and that foliage in the teal batik looked very much like kelp to me now. Wouldn't you know, there wasn't enough of either batik on their own, so the decision was made for me - both would go in the quilt and I would just have to hope they looked ok together. Of course, they look great, and Meg pointed out she really liked the variety in that one had quite delicate foliage while the other was bolder. Yes, good point!

Arrows point to 3rd batik

Even so, I cut every bit of both batiks, again less than a fat quarter each, and still needed eight 2 x 2-1/2 inch pieces and eight 2-1/2 x 4-1/2 inch pieces. Both of these batiks are quite old and I couldn't find another batik in my stash that was close. I considered substituting that muted teal hand-dye, but it was already in use. I considered several batiks with one or the other color represented but they simply did not blend. I laid in bed Saturday night, analyzing the one batik in my head, thinking about the sections of it that had smudges of a muted plum so popular during that time period. I mentally went through my batik stash, focusing on those plums that I've found so hard to incorporate, and thought I'd found one that might work. Sunday, I went through my batiks for the 3rd or 4th time and found those plum batiks and sure enough, one of them did pick up on that plum and had enough leaf patterning to keep it from sticking out like a sore thumb. The other batiks I'd left out as last ditch choices went back in the stash. I cut those last pieces, put them in place and smiled. It worked!

I almost feel silly making such a big deal out of mixing up a range of colors. It's the basis of good scrap quilts and constantly found in advice on how to make your quilts "sing". It's one thing to know the theory though, and quite another to carry it out when one's mindset has always been concerned with a particular fabric standing out in a bad way and finding it hard not to be put off by the juxtaposition of certain colors which results in an involuntary cringe. I envy those who can just pull colors I'd never think to put together and have them work so well. I'm glad for the opportunity of this simple quilt to observe my thought processes and push past the invalid ones. I can see how the choices that are unconventional for me are leading to a more visually interesting quilt, one I hope in the end will sparkle like the sea. 


Sherrie Spangler said...

I like the way "Sea and Sand" is shaping up. Thanks for sharing your group meeting -- always fun to see what others are doing.

Living to work - working to live said...

It's ages since I've made a proper quilt and since I've used commercial fabrics.

I really should get the old cutting mat out!

Love that quilt.

Lucia Sasaki said...

Hi Sheila, thanks a lot for sharing the last meeting of your textil art group.
It is inspiring!!
I hope we can see the result of your friend's in progress works as well baby quilt.
Thanks again!!

The Idaho Beauty said...

Glad you all enjoy seeing what my friends are up to. I know how much they inspire me so am happy when I can share.

Hilary, this quilt is made from my hand-dyes but also a few commercial batiks, which I realize I don't even consider "commercial" fabric. They have their own section in my stash, far away from the group of true commercial fabrics I collected before getting so into hand-dyes and art quilts. Our brain thinks what it will. ;-)

Michele Matucheski said...

Neat to see what your group is working on. And those leave DO look like peacock feathers. And for all your troubles, your sand and sea quilt came out beautifully in a subsequent post!

The Idaho Beauty said...

Thanks Michele. I am so pleased and like it so much. Nice to have a relatively stress free success! Let's hope the quilting goes as well. :-)