For now I have the finished “Fish” pieces 4 & 3 hanging on the closet door. That’s it, I don’t plan on doing any more of these. They’ll go in the closet along with the other “skinny quilts” – I may take them to Parrsboro for the summer exhibit there, we’ll see when I start pulling work from the closet closer to the end of July.
One friend commented she’d put small bubbles coming to the surface – I did think about that for a moment as I was finishing the stitching on Fish 4 – but in the end I left the fish swimming peacefully among the seaweed.
I got an email middle of last week wondering whether I’d be interested in exhibiting some of my work in the two outside window cases of the Craig Gallery at the Dartmouth Ferry Terminal (Alderney Landing).
How did they know about my work? A couple of weeks ago, I sent out proposals to five major galleries in the Halifax area – The Craig Gallery was one of them.
Of course I said yes? Short notice wasn’t an issue – I have a closet full of quilts and wall art projects – the challenge was how to limit the exhibit. On Friday morning I drove across the bridge to visit the gallery to get an idea of the size of each window. (I took along a suitcase with a range of pieces to show the curators – their reaction – “The photos don’t do the work justice!”) I know that, but the only way I can get any attention is with photos. While I was at the gallery we talked about me submitting a proposal for a solo show inside the gallery at some time in the future. I plan on resubmitting late in the summer for the 2024 season!
I arrived early at the gallery this morning with eight pieces in my large travel suitcase along with monofilament fishing line, straight pins, gorilla tape, a hammer and level, a few hooks… I forgot small brass nails, but in the end that was OK – we used tiny bulldog clips to hang the work from the window case ceiling using the monofiliament (the two lower portrait pieces are pinned to a plinth top).
It’s too bad I couldn’t get photos without the reflection from the windows behind me but you get a hint of how the exhibit looks.
While I was looking at the finished windows one of the artists from the Dartmouth Visual Art Society (who are showing inside the gallery for the same month of June) was looking at the work as well. “I must bring my sister-in-law to see this! She’s a quilter but she just follows patterns. She need to see this free-form work.”
If one person brings a second, quite a few people may actually stop and peruse the work – you can get close enough to the windows to examine the appliqué and stitching detail and wonder how in earth did she get those portraits so photo-like. I explain how in my “artist statement” and “biography” if anybody bothers to read either.
At first glance you think you’re looking at photographs – when you get closer you realize you’re looking at textile compositions! Precisely the effect I’ve been trying to develop with these works.
The street leading from my apartment building has a line of Bradford Pear trees. Last week they were just starting to bloom. I love seeing the flowers come out. They’re strong and showy and the trees become a mass of white.
Then my friend Marlene had two orchid cacti blooming in her greenhouse – the flowers are gorgeous. However, fully open, they last but a day. These two obviously bloom during the day. She has a white one that blooms at night – it’s a special trip to see the open flower.
I haven’t taken many photos this spring. Not sure why that is. We’ve had some lovely sunny warm days but I haven’t been motivated to wander with my camera the way I was last spring.
Here are a few I’ve taken:
I need to pull out my camera more! Pay more attention to what’s around me.
I wasn’t intending to carry on with the “fish” but I’m stuck with the quilt I started so I went to work on another “fish” piece.
Because I’d cut bindings from the leftover piece of purple ombre, the leftover piece was a bit shorter than I wanted it to be, so I added some batik to the dark bottom end of the purple and filled in with seaweed-like shapes.
Not so many fish this time, they’re more spaced out, with one behind the seaweed (which meant I had to stitch it in place before fusing the seaweed to the panel. The other fish are just laying in place for now – I don’t know precisely where I will put them, I’ll know that after thread painting the seaweed elements.
I worked away at my machine yesterday, edge stitching the seaweed then adding three seaweed embroideries for texture. Late last evening, I fused the remaining fish in place.
Next will be to edge stitch the remaining fish and add an eye to each. Again, I think I’m not going to do any background stitching, I like the water-like flow in the ombre print and don’t want to interfere with it.
OK. This really is the last of the fish pieces. REALLY.
I taught a class this week on “Skinny Quilts/Wall Banners” – on constructing simple, fast and easy quilted fabric art pieces. I’d worked on two much more complex pieces recently.
I wanted something simple to show the women in the class. I wanted whatever they tackled to be pieced/stitched in a day. Hence the “Fish”.
The night before class, I pulled the ombre pieces I had in my stash (from a Ryan McKenna kit I’d bought but never used five or more years ago), chose the purple one because it was an uncut 1/2 yd piece and cut an 11 1/2″ piece WOF. Next I gathered together the last of the “fish” scraps I’d saved from the Double Vision quilt – A Study in Blue and Green I’d made in 2019.
I positioned a dozen fish on the ombre fabric (they already had fusible web on the back), pressed them into position, cut a piece of batting and took it to class along with eight other banners I have in my closet so the gals could see a range of possible appliqué work.
Yesterday, I edged stitched the fish and added an eye to each. I thought about embroidering some seaweed at the bottom of the panel but the ombre fabric has a soothing “water” movement to the pattern and I decided that rather than embellish the background, I’d leave well enough alone.
I sewed on a hidden binding and added a backing muslin this morning, pinning the binding in place. I still have to add a hanging sleeve and hand stitch the binding in place but the hanging is now complete.
The women managed to piece a background (as I had done on the two banners above), cut out appliqués, fuse them in place (we discussed matters like colour, value, complexity of pattern, etc when choosing both the background and appliqué fabrics), then began the edge stitching.
I usually do this class as a two day affair but we were doing it on a single day. Had it been a two day class, I’d have had the gals practice edge stitching on curves but there wasn’t time so they went at it on their banner pieces. One had an open toed foot, luckily we were able to find another in the shop for the second machine – what a difference being able to see where your needle is in relation to the appliqué fabric! It takes a bit of practice to get the eye/hand/foot coordination to sew accurately at the fabric edge. Then the issue of editing the various decorative stitches to get a suitable width/length so the stitching shows, but doesn’t dominate the work, arose. Stitch selection and editing takes practice and judgement as well. We didn’t have time to develop a stitch sampler with notations – that would have required another couple of hours – we went with what was expedient.
The gals made significant headway and their technique improved significantly as they went along. Toward the end of the afternoon we stopped and examined how I’d done the finishing work on my textile pieces. I’ve sent them the directions for completing their wall hangings. Now it’s up to them. I’ve asked for photos of the completed work.
That’s the last of my “fish”; I still have a bag full of circles in many sizes waiting to be used.
I had a second set of Bali Poppies strips – Poppy Field – which I held back from the previous quilt. With this quilt top I’ve started laying out strips – the plan is to have the strips on an angle across the width of the quilt top. I started with a long strip – at the moment I’m working my way into the top right corner, then I’ll pick up and work my way to the bottom left. I want the quilt to be about 46″ wide by whatever length it turns out to be.
I’ve elected to do mitre joins (rather than blunt ones) – that may not have been the best decision in this situation. I’m also alternating the direction of the joins – which means some are almost vertical and the next horizontal. I’m not sure the visual effect I was hoping for is going to materialize – I won’t be able to tell until then top is nearly assembled.
I’m having to piece this project one strip at a time, making sure I get the join direction correct and the join position somewhat interesting.
As I get further along I’m planning on inserting “diamonds” into the dark blue background. I may have to appliqué them in order for them to look like diamonds. I have a hunch that if I piece them into the background with mitre joins they’re going to look quite odd!
Once I got rolling again on piecing the quilt back, the quilt went reasonably quickly. I’d already set up an embroidery (320mm x 320mm) to quilt the project – using my “grand dream” hoop – 360x350mm. The hoop is “reversible” – the machine stitches out the right half of the embroidery design, then you rotate the hoop to stitch out the second half. So all I needed was to execute 16 repeats of the design. The quilting turned out quite nicely.
Then I stitched the sashing “in-the-ditch” using a navy 50wt thread adjacent the dark blue so the stitches are barely visible. After I trimmed the backing, I had enough leftover fabric to use as binding. I’d initially thought I’d turn the binding completely to the back, but in the end I liked having 1/4″ showing – it added interest to the quilt top. Then I hand stitched the binding to the back. It blended in perfectly; you hardly notice it at all.
Now I have the choice to display either side of this quilt – I’m almost tempted to show the back of the quilt in Parrsboro!