Not Your Grandmother’s Quilts!

Today I hung my quilts and wall pieces at the Art Labs Studios & Gallery in Parrsboro. I didn’t hang everything I took with me, opting for the “less is more” principle. Nevertheless, I’m delighted with how the show looks.

I spent the afternoon as “artist in residence” to chat with folks who dropped by for the “opening” – there were probably a dozen visitors who stopped to look, half of whom actually wanted to learn more about the works themselves. Lovely conversations with each of them.

This year, I wanted to show the new quilts produced since last summer as well as a “retrospective” of what I refer to as “the portrait” pieces – the wall art based on my photos where I print elements of a photo on fabric and embed them in a pieced background. The initial reaction is always that you’re looking at a photo and then only when you step closer do you see you’re viewing a textile/thread piece.

The show hangs until late in the afternoon of August 18 in Parrsboro NS.

121 Main Street, Parrsboro NS

If you’re considering a day trip to Parrsboro make sure to stop for lunch at The Pier / Harbourview Restaurant in Parrsboro. Ruby and I went there just to have their lobster roll – it won’t disappoint you!

Lobster Roll (after taking a big bite!)

A nicely toasted (buttered) hotdog bun FILLED with chunks of fresh lobster seated on some lettuce (OK, so there wasn’t any chopped celery, but we didn’t complain because there was so much lobster). We added a single kids’ portion of fries which we shared (just enough for two without having to feel guilty about eating them).

We started with the deep fried battered dill pickle – yes you got that right – a Pier Restaurant invention, I think. Crazy but surprisingly tasty. Ruby had never had anything like it so I ordered some. Comes with tartar sauce for dipping.

Deep Fried Battered Dill Pickle

On our way back to the city we stopped at “The Egg Lady” – to pick up 5 dozen fresh eggs for a friend of mine. Laid today, they’ll last her for several weeks.

The Egg Lady

We didn’t stop at Five Islands Lighthouse Park today, or go up the hill to That Dutchman Cheese Farm. We did stop at Masstown Market for chili for a light supper on the way home to round out the day. (You could have a terrific order of Fish and Chips at their Fish and Chip Boat if you can handle more fried food).

In spite of some rain, we had a lovely day.

The View – Completed

I still have to stitch the hidden binding on the back but other than that, this project is finished. Yesterday I’d finished applying the piping and border only to realize I’d forgotten the light inner “matte”! Having cut the piece to size I wasn’t going to take it apart and rework it. Besides, the contrast between piping/border makes the image itself pop quite nicely.

I’m definitely happy with how the gals worked out on the bench and that I was able to show their bums on the seat. Not obvious in the photo is the shadow under and behind the bench which grounds the gals – it’s much more obvious in the piece itself.

I’ll work on the hand stitching later this afternoon. That’s it for “portrait” wall art pieces for now. Time to move on to more garment sewing.

The View

Bay of Fundy

This is the second piece I decided to work on. I photographed the bench on the beach at Huntington Point in 2007. I’ve always wanted to turn it into a textile piece but it needed people sitting on the bench.

A couple of summers ago I was doing the day trip thing with a friend. We stopped at the Tangled Garden near Wolfville and I people watched. There were a couple of young women sitting on chairs near a picnic table. I asked if I could rearrange their chairs and photograph them from behind. I’ve been playing around with the relative size of the gals and the bench to get the proportions in balance. I’m close. Although now that I’ve mocked up the sky, the bay, the faint line of shore in the distance (needs to be much narrower than the strip I’ve got place holding it), the rocky beach and the grass, I think the bench and the women need to be a bit larger for the image to work as I imagine it.

Next steps: add fusible web to the pieces of fabric, trim them to size; thread paint the setting, print the gals and the bench to size, fussy cut them and place them in the scene. To make the image work, I need to build the shadow cast by the women and the bench coming toward the foreground (the direction of the shadow dictated by the position of the sun on the young woman’s hat). I don’t know whether to do that with permanent markers or ink pencils – I’ll have to experiment before I decide.

Now I really need to get on with that wedding gown!

Huntington Point Beach

Huntington Point Beach

The piece is finished — well, almost. I think I want to take apart the bottom right corner and see if I can straighten it just a wee bit. I may not be able to, but I think I have to try.

I’m pleased with how the work turned out. You have the impression of the dried seaweed blown against the driftwood log and the dried grasses on the gravel beach itself. You can see the headlands recede into the distance with the sun illuminating the top of the nearest ridge.

The colours in the piping bring out the blues and golds from the image and the very dark navy frame lightens it. From a distance, the log glows because it’s sun bleached.

My next job is to make some adjustments to a beaded lace wedding dress — take up the shoulder straps a tiny bit, replace the skintone mesh in the front cleavage slit with a longer piece (bringing the two edges a smidgeon closer together), finally cut the train from the two underskirts leaving just the lace and tulle train at the back and hemming the underskirts. That’s for tomorrow.

Progress…

Huntington Point Beach

I’ve spent the entire afternoon trying to piece this image. The distant background – the hills leading down to the bay weren’t so difficult, but trying to get the foreground assembled in some meaningful way has been difficult. What I see in the foreground is a lot of thread painting to simulate the grasses and seaweed on the beach; I’m not trying to emulate the gravel beach entirely with the fabrics.

David (and the log) are still paper, but it’s almost time to print him on fabric and carefully cut him out so I can add what’s needed to the foreground.

The surf is a bit of lace but it will still need to be overstitched to make it more realistic (I need to stitch some surf in each of the inlets, as well – same with the water – I need to stitch some horizontal wind lines to suggest movement in the bay.

Back to work.

Back To Wall Art

Huntington Point NS

I’ve time to get another wall art piece made before the exhibit in Parrsboro at the end of July through to August 19. I went through a bunch of photos I’ve set aside in a wall art folder on my desktop and decided to try this one – David walking on a driftwood log at Huntington Point Beach (West Hall’s Harbour/Simpson Road) taken Nov 1 2007.

My plan is to make a 12″ x 9″ image by piecing the background – sky, Bay of Gundy, hills, beach, seaweed – then printing the image on lawn fabric of David on the log (enlarging it about 115%), adding a fusible web, fussy cutting David and the log, and fusing the cutout to the background.

I started yesterday gathering fabric scraps from my many boxes of small fabric pieces. I now have a pile of stuff sitting on my cutting table. I hope to get to it tomorrow.

As you can see, I’ve sketched out the basic elements of the image on a muslin backing fabric. I won’t need large pieces of fabric to fill the area. I’ll start by trimming the scraps to an approximate size, adding fusible web to the back, then start to assemble the panel.

I’m also toying with another idea.

Hawaiian Tiki on Big Island

I took this photo at Puʻuhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park a gazillion years ago! I was fascinated by the Tiki on the beach there. So obviously connected to the totem traditions of Canada’s west coast Haida people. I have this photo hanging in my sewing studio. It’s in portrait view. I think these two wooden sculptures would make a great focus for a coastal landscape view with them off-centre on the left. I’m just trying to figure out how to sharpen the image so I can highlight the demarcations with stitching.

Another photo I keep coming back to is the one of Charlie’s first visit to a beach when he was maybe a year and a half.

Charlie at the Beach

I made a wall art piece from this photo in 2017 using appliqué and thread painting but I’ve always wanted to extract him from the photo and do the piece again.

The problem is the photo I have was send in small format from his dad’s iPhone and I can’t enlarge it and get any sort of sharp image! I’ve played with the photo endless times to no avail. I went so far as to call his dad, my nephew, and asked him to try tracking down the original. No luck, probably long gone. I may have to enlist some help from the iPhone Photography School people to see whether anybody can help me out.

For now, it’s David at Huntington Road beach and possibly the Tiki.

Night Sky

Night Sky – Quilt Top

Here is the completed Night Sky quilt. I finished quilting it yesterday – it wasn’t a simple job because I’d decided to quilt on the diagonal within the flow of the strips which meant I had to keep pinning fabric strips to the edges so I could hoop the pinned layers.

Quilting Detail

I set up a swirl embroidery in two columns, used a variegated thread which blended with the various colours of the strips. I started at the strip end, changing to navy thread when I reached the dark fabric (often in the middle of a quilting run). A fiddly job, to say the least. However, I didn’t want the light thread to interfere with the speckled effect of the navy background. In some sections I had no choice but to carry the light thread into the navy but I hauled out my handy permanent navy marker and darkened the stitching. That worked well.

This was an edge-to-edge design which actually matched up very nicely – I could successfully place the next design and have it line up with the ends of the previous one. The joins are barely noticeable – I can pick out a few but most are perfect alignments.

Night Sky – Quilt Back

I widened the backing by creating a panel from scraps leftover from the Poppy Field quilt inserting a long batik strip of a rather wild palm leaf batik. In the photo it looks black but it’s much more colourful than that with purples, pale greens, pinks which blend with the other small batik samples.

My goal with this quilt was to showcase the beautiful fabrics in the curated set from the jellyroll. In the end I did have to add a few other strips on order to have enough to make the quilt long enough. Finished size: 47″ x 60″ – a good lap size; great for a wall hanging on a large wall!

Re-Vision

Reworked Quilt Top

I was suddenly awake at 7:00 this morning (I normally wake at 8:00). Got out of bed and went to work (before going to the pool at 8:45 as always on a Friday morning).

First, I removed the narrow pumpkin sashing from the two “straight” sides. Then I carefully unstitched the three navy bits in the bottom right corner and replaced each with fabric that blended with the main strip in each location. Now there is no jarring bits of navy in that corner.

So, from “Poppy Field 2”, I can name this piece “Night Sky” which brings out the golden speckle in the navy fabric and implies a city scape below.

I think I’m happier with that. Next on to coming up with an idea for piecing the back.

Poppy Field 2

Piecing of the Strips Finished

The strip piecing is finally finished. I have called the quilt “Poppy Field 2” because that was the name on the batch of strips. I will have to come up with another name for this effort.

Looking at the image, seeing the top on the floor, I can see immediately what I have to attempt next – a similar piecing but with the strips coming from a single point in one corner. That will involve grading each and every strip in order to generate the quarter circle full of radiating strips! I have more jelly roll collections in my stash so I could certainly use one to try out the idea.

Back to this quilt top. The current size is 47″ x 60″. I think I want to add a narrow 1/2″ sashing in some contrasting colour then complete the top with a 3″-3 1/2″ border which will make the quilt top something like 53/54″ wide and 66/67″ long. Colour and fabric for the sashing is a decision for another day when I get back to this. For now, I have to say I’m reasonably happy with how the piecing has turned out.

One aspect of the piecing I’m not completely happy with is the mitred joins – when you see the quilt from the corner the angles are interesting:

straight on I think the mitred joins are awkward. My intention is to quilt along the strips (on the diagonal) 4 rows at a time using variegated thread and bringing the design and colour across the dark blue background. If I come up with a suitable design those mitres will be overstitched and I may be able to create the illusion of a starburst.

Now to start exploring designs to use for quilting the project.

Fish

Fish 4 & 3 – Finished

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.

Now back to the partially assembled quilt top. Really!

Corner Filled In