Tuesday, September 28, 2010

slow and steady

I didn't get home until 7 tonight and was almost too tired to look at the quilt, but I just had to tinker with one thing... then another.  I fixed the too light window frame and started adding some cut out stones.  I think I will cut out fewer than I thought and just draw the rest on with lines of quilting.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Learning Curve

Well, I bypassed the rather tedious task I'd planned for tonight (cutting out stones) and went straight to the fun one - putting together the windows.  I have a lot to learn about art and design and fabric. A LOT.  But it's fun and exciting.  

There are rules I've known academically forever, but not how to implement them.  For example, value and contrast are more important than color. And a good design is more important than reality.  In reality the window frames are all the same color.  But in the design the light stone has zero contrast against itself and disappeared into the light wall, while it had way too much contrast in the dark wall.  And I'm trying to create the impression of a deep recess.  So because it is farther away the window in the deep part should be smaller, even though in reality it was bigger.  (Well, in reality it didn't exist, I made it bigger to fill a bigger space. Wrong.)  Luckily I was able to just peel them off and switch them.  Whew.  I would have HATED it if I'd had that big window in the dark wall.

I also learned to always make myself a nice big piece of fused fabric if I'm going to be collaging.  It's nuts to be scrimping out little tiny scraps when it costs pennies to have a good supply on hand.  
And one more thing: freezer paper is my friend.  I mean who knew? (Other than a couple million quilters).

Here's today's progress:
I'm still hoping that the stone details and the quilting have a positive effect.  I may draw in some of the stone lines with the light brown sharpie, that worked good on the quoin or whatever that piece on top is.  But it stands out too much doesn't it?

Oh, go to bed already, Sharon!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

FFFC Progress

I don't feel too bad about how I'm progressing with the first challenge, despite the fact that others have already started posting finished pieces.  Sheesh!    Mine  looks like 6-8 pieces of fabric stuck together, but Hey! A lot of thought that went into those 6 or 8 pieces.

Friday I thought all day about doing a figure study, but fell back on architecture by the end of the day.

Saturday I picked up some extra fabrics at the Guild show, including some great squares of over-dyed wool that turned out to be a prominent part of the piece.  $7.00 for two seven-inch squares seemed a bit high priced.  Good thing they were useful.

 Saturday afternoon/evening I enlarged the photo, adjusted it for the 12" block, which meant making up an extra 3" on the left, and added some additional windows that I thought it needed.  Artist's licence, okay?  Then I traced the whole thing onto tracing paper to try to figure out which colors went where, or where the color changed.  I thought I had that all down.

Sunday I had about 1.5 hrs. in the morning, and two in the evening.  It did not take long to narrow down the fabrics I thought would work, but figuring out how to actually assemble the thing was another story. I decided I needed some sort of base to assemble onto, since there wasn't any "background" to it.  Not to worry.  A nice piece of an old sheet was perfect.  The plan was to build up the pieces from right to left...

I sewed one piece on backward, took it off and resewed it properly.  Tried to sew the curved piece on next.  It became clear that wasn't going to work, and I put the sewing machine away and got out the iron.  Fusing, it is!  I knew I'd be fusing on some of the small parts, but I had hoped to peice the major pieces.  Oh well.  That took care of most of the time I had this morning.

Back in the evening for better progress.  All the basic pieces are fused down.  Now I have to add a lot of small parts over the next couple days then quilt and bind, voila.   I'm looking forward to the quilting.  I'm hoping the quilting lines will define the bricks and stones, and give the whole thing some finesse.

My technical skills clearly need a lot more practice.  They are not going to keep up with my wild ideas.

Just for the record:  chiaroscuro is a painterly shading technique used specifically to give 2-D objects a sense of volume: that is, to make them look like three-dimensional solids. Whereas tenebrism is a dark-light compositional technique by which some areas of the painting are kept dark (that is, totally black), allowing one or two areas to be strongly illuminated by comparison.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

It SHOULD be easy...

But it wasn't for me.  After an hour or so of playing with Google docs, I think I found a way  to share my Dear Jane color chart.  Not sure why it's so hard - I thought posting a file to the blog would be easy, but it's only easy if it's a JPG or GIF I guess.   See if this works:  Dear Jane Color Chart in Google Docs

It looks very small in the Google format, but it is readable if you save or open it in Adobe reader (PDF).

Now I'm off to the Moonlight Quilters show.  Can't wait to see what my new guild-mates have on display!


The big moment for announcement of the FFFC Challenge finally came at 9:00 pm Thursday night, and I was so drained from the day at work that I completely forgot to look at it until I was already in bed.  I like the idea, it's a concept I learned in art history classes but never thought about doing anything with it myself.   Of course I never really thought much about doing any kind of art...

Yesterday I was thinking about doing something with a figure study, I tried to sketch out the idea of  person sleeping, with moonlight falling through the window casting a bright square of light over the head and shoulders while the rest of the figure disappeared in the darkness.   That was very interesting and challenging but I quickly realized that successfully executing it in fabric, in any sort of "Fast" manner was going to be impossible for me.

In the evening I looked again at the examples posted on the website, and decided that some of architectural subject would probably meet the intent of the challenge, and was something I'd already thought a bit about, so I could move forward quickly.  I went back to some great photos that a friend had taken in Europe and posted on his Facebook page.  Then I pulled out some old architectural history books to look more at how light an shadow fall on different elements.  

I think I have a direction now.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

One Down

Okay.  I completed one acceptable Dear Jane block tonight.  168 more to go.  
That's about it.  Work and then my workout took all the available physical and mental energy today.
Except that I browsed the used bookstore at lunch, looking for examples of chiaroscuro.   I know what it is an how Rembrant used it.   How I'm going to use it in an art quilt is a different story.

24 hours til we get our first challenge.  Seems like I've been waiting forever.


I hope it's exact enough.  It looks a bit crooked on the grid.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Precision is not my strong point

I pieced the simple A6 block from Dear Jane, but it ended up wonky - not square.  Carefully sewing pieces that are barely an inch square is not my strong point.  But I'm doing this because (a) I need practice in lots of different techniques, and (b) I'm fascinated by the way the original quilt looks.  I think tonight I will cut out 2-3 more sets. Hopefully I can get one of them right!

Monday, September 20, 2010


Well,  the first Fast Friday challenge is only a few days away. I'm almost buzzing with the anticipation of getting started.   I've been trying to mentally prepare myself, without any preconceived idea of what the challenge will be... fabric and batting lined up and ready...new blade in the cutter... ready, set.......

I'm also excited about my "other" challenge group, Artitude.  This is a brand new group of about 25 people who came together via the Quiltart list to do similar challenges.  I think that Artitude has some more "newbie" type members, but  I know there are some really experienced and successful artists too.    Some very generous members have been working through the process of creating a private website for us to "meet" on, and deciding on our challenges.  This group will be monthly, so we will have a little more time to think than the FFFC folks.

I also just joined a local quilters guild here in my hometown, and they will be holding their annual show next weekend.  I am so excited to suddenly be connected to so many fun and accomplished people.

Since I've decided to try blogging regularly again,  I will also try to post what I've accomplished on my quilt art projects each day (or week).  Yesterday I didn't get as much time as I'd hoped,  (when do I ever??) but I did assemble the quilt sandwich for my Chair of Your Dreams quilt.  That was a small but significant step.  I had to dig the black batting out from behind the dresser (yes, storage is becoming a crisis!) and get S.O. to help unfold and cut it.   I had to buy a queen size piece of black batting for the original dark-colored piece, "Twenty-seven," (also not finished, but at least partly quilted) because that was all the shop had in stock and I was too impatient to wait for a special order small piece.   So I've gotta do a lot more dark stuff.

I also spent a lot of time this weekend studying the Dear Jane quilt, thinking and sketching ideas and re-drafting some block patterns on AutoCAD to print out.  I don't know WHY I am starting this Dear Jane thing right middle of all the art quilt groups starting up, but I just couldn't resist it.  I'm not totally sure about the colors I'll use, but I know I want it to be in the same vein as the original, but more pastels and less browns.  I did decide on one color - which is a aqua tone, something I've been collecting for an eventual bed quilt for myself.  It only takes a few snips out of each fabric to make the DJ blocks, the rest can go towards a more easily completed functional quilt.  But now I have to make the blocks that land in that color of the quilt, or else start mixing and mingling them around.  I'm not sure I want to do that, I think Jane had a careful organization that balanced the heavier and lighter elements...

Anywho - right before bed I cut out the pieces for block A-6 Uncle Homer.
So there.
It's started.
What have I done?