Exhibit @ The Craig Gallery

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).

Exhibit in the Large Window Case
Floral Art Pieces in the Smaller Window Case

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.

Sky / Sand / Sea – Finished

Sky / Sand / Sea

Finished, except for hand stitching the hidden binding to the back. It’s hard to tell from the image how much quilting I did. I decided to leave the narrow strip unquilted to act as a separation between the two pieced strips. That meant I had to free motion quilt the light elements stopping precisely at the separator and make sure I did a tie off at the back. The darker elements required a different technique – I created embroideries to fit the size of each of the dark elements and stitched them in the hoop as I would any embroidery. You can see the detail below:

Quilting Detail

I wanted a “wave” like flow to the “sea” elements so I set up a couple of different embroideries for each section. I used a “stippling” stitching in the embroidery on the hibiscus fabric. I created “grass” for the green/blue fabric, etc. I made sure each embroidery fit the dimensions of the bit of fabric I was quilting. In the end I was pleased with the outcome.

I added the gulls once I’d stitched the “sky” portion of the hanging – they are cut from black raw silk, fussy cut, fused, then edge stitched in place. My initial idea had been to print images of gulls on fabric but when I did that with the paper cutouts they didn’t show up well. In the end I thought silhouettes of the gulls worked better against the “Sky” background.

This evening I’ll do the hand stitching to finish off the piece.

Sky / Sand / Sea

Sky / Sand / Sea

I have the panel assembled – two pieces joined off-centre with a narrow strip. It was obvious the resulting panel needed something more – gulls! So I searched for silhouettes of gulls online. There are lots of them. I downloaded a bunch in various sizes and flight positions. I need both right-flying and left-flying birds.

What I have in place at the moment are paper cutouts so I could judge position and size. I need to make two of the birds smaller – the one in the centre needs to be a bit bigger. Otherwise, I think three is all I want or need. My plan is to print them on fabric, fussy cut them, then fuse them in place.

In the end I chose to join the fabric pieces with straight lines – I’m intending to do quite a bit of thread painting particularly through the “sand” and “sea” elements with gently curved lines (using doubled rayon thread for emphasis) which I’ll stitch over the seams to obscure them a bit.

Next I need batting, then I can start stitching.

Carryin’ On

Fabric Squares For Another Wall Piece

Yesterday, I cut 7 1/2″ squares from the fabrics I’d collected from my stash to do a second wall art piece. What I see in my mind’s eye is something to suggest sky/sea/sand in two unequal panels: a wider light one, and a darker narrower one, joined by a dark strip graduated from lighter at the top to darker at the bottom. At the moment, the blocks are the same width – that’s because I don’t yet know where I want to place them – some of the dark pieces on the left will get cut into narrow strips and integrated into the fabrics on the right. When I’ve worked out colour placement, I’ll sew my two strips (I want a finished length of around 42″) then trim the one that will be on the right to 5 1/2″ – 6″. I still need some kind of lighter sand colour fabric for the top of the narrow insertion strip dividing the two panels – have to look for that today.

Latest Socks


Finished these socks two days ago – definitely bright! Into the “give-away” stash. I have a number of pairs of yellow socks in my sock drawer; no need (no room) to add another!

Blue Flowers

Blue Flowers

Just finished (well, I’ve still have to hand stitch the hidden binding in place). It took several days to do the thread painting – using decorative stitching around each fabric circle, embellishing the flower centres with embroideries, adding leaves, and stitching the detail in the foreground at the bottom of the piece.

Detail

Here you can see more of the stitching detail – many decisions: what thread colour, which stitches, stitch dimensions. Most of the centre embroideries I’d already set up from a previous floral hanging but they had to be adapted to fit these smaller centres.

This was the image that inspired the piece:

By Marieka Diepenveen

The piece by Marieka Diepenveen is a watercolour. I particularly liked the irregular concentric blue flower shapes and the tiny leaves growing out of the variable green vegetation. I added more colour and adjusted the dimensions and my circles are regular. My vegetation was dictated by the batik I chose to use which had greenery shapes. I might try another where the flower shapes are irregular….

Blue Flowers – Again

I started this textile wall art piece on Jan 23. I managed to get the basic appliqués in place and then I was stumped. Before I could embellish the raw edge shapes I had to figure out some way of stitching “stems” for the “flowers”. I thought about cutting narrow strips of various green fabrics, using yarn (yarn couching – using decorative stitches to tack the yarn in place), even stitching over very narrow ribbon. The issue was the colours I’d used in the vegetation at the bottom of the piece which limited my options. I spent time sporadically playing around with decorative stitches but nothing seemed to set up the effect I was after. I had no suitable green/brown yarn in my stash. And trying to force ribbon into gentle curves, even if I could come up with a suitable colour, wasn’t going to work, either.

After finishing a pair of black corduroy pants this morning (more about that in another post), I picked up my stitching sampler, played with a few more decorative stitches and then decided I’d just repeat rows of straight stitching! I practiced a bit. I matched thread colours with the fabric at the bottom of the hanging and started in.

Blue Flowers

This is as far as I’ve got at the moment. Those stems need small leaves of some sort – I intend to work those in last. Next will be embellishing the raw edges of each layer of the flowers to permanently attach them to the backing.

You get the idea here. The vegetation at the bottom also needs a lot more embellishing but that, too will come after I’ve worked on the flowers and flower centres.

I thought it was the COVID-19 Rapid Test Kit building that had interfered with my working on this piece. It wasn’t. It was my not knowing how to do the stems/leaves that had me stopped. I feel like I’m being creative again. Finally!

Blue Flowers

Blue Flowers

A couple of days ago I started pulling together subsets of blue fabric scraps and piling the pieces into groupings for the flowers. Next I pressed fusible web (glue) to the back of each fabric piece, then cut out “flower” elements.

Circles? Almost Circles? Irregular circular shapes? In the end I opted for more or less circular shapes in graduated sizes, laid them on top of one another, offset somewhat. I removed the paper backing and pressed the layers for each flower together then played with placement on the background. I finished by pressing the flowers in place.

Before I start thread painting the flowers, I need to use a heat erasable pen to mark where the stem/leaf elements should go. I plan to stitch long thin stems with just a hint of leaf shapes – that may change when I get underway and decide to include some fabric cutout leaves.

This is as far as I have got today.

A Beginning

For some reason I can’t seem to find inspiration for a quilt at the moment – so I’ve turned to smaller projects. Looking through my Pinterest saves I considered the “Skinny Quilt” ideas I’d stored there. Several looked interesting – I selected two, then went through my fabric stash to see what I had that might work for both.

Idea #1

Idea #1

I found a photo of a 4-panel square quilt constructed from blocks with interspersed light and dark. One strip is probably not enough so I think I will work on two, but of unequal width. I started with the light colours – based on a soft teal and juxtaposed some dark blue (with gold), some other blues with greens gold, and finally the tans including two pieces of silk dupione which have a strong grain which I think will work well. I don’t know yet whether I will interject a contrast between the two panel elements, or not. The technical challenge is that the insert strips are cut with a curve which means cutting the seam edge of both fabrics at the same time and sewing the opposing curves. We’ll see how that goes.

Idea #2

Idea #2

This panel is based on a photo of a painting done by Marieka Diepenveen (you can see it peeking out on the left side of the fabrics – the round blue flowers). Again her painting is a wide rectangle but my intention is to create a panel about 12″ x 50″. I’ve chosen the two pale grey fabrics using the white with tiny black dots to separate them, with a collage of greens at the bottom. I have lots of colourful blue scraps and even some small circles from another project that might work themselves into the banner.

Now I just need to get going on both!

Purple Poppies – Finally Completed

Purple Poppies

I started this piece on (or about) July 7 2021 – here’s how it unfolded:

I got to the thread painting part and stopped, partly because I wasn’t sure I liked the poppies – I felt they weren’t strong enough although they were the right size to fill the space.

The piece has sat around, face down, until a couple of days ago when I finally picked it up and got to work on it. I’d already picked possible threads for the job, had them all in a plastic bin (which sat on top of the face-down piece). I threaded my machine with the lightest of the green embroidery thread and got to work filling in leaves. That was relatively straightforward; the leaves wanted a bit of texture but nothing more. The poppies were another matter. I wanted to brighten them so I started with a dark purple thread to stitch the outline pencil marks which took some careful stitching. I stood back and looked at the piece – seemed to me right then was the moment to stop. I figured I’d just muddy the whole thing had I attempted to work in the various pinks and mauves. So I’ve left it alone.

I added a batting panel, and backing, and decided to complete the piece with a narrow dark binding. The piece is 18″ x 24″ – large enough without adding wide borders to it. In truth, I just wanted the piece finished and out of my way. It’s been hanging around for six months – the longest I’ve procrastinated on a project.

The piece is not bad; not my best. It’s now finished.

Art Labs – August 2021

Friday I took eight quilts and 12 wall art pieces to Parrsboro to show at the Art Labs Gallery. I knew it was a shared exhibition with two women who do rug hooking – but I had been told most of their pieces would be stand-on-the-floor works – laundry baskets, chairs, stools… Well, they were, but several were “hung” which cut my showing space in half. I was able to hang 5 quilts and 4 wall art pieces. A disappointment because the wall art pieces I’d chosen showed the evolution of my “printed on fabric” appliqué technique – the pieces all had people in them which I wanted to showcase.

At Five Islands; Wind Waiting

The most recent piece with one of the earlier pieces. I’m still very fond of the mood of these three guys at Fox River wishing the wind would moderate so we could launch our paragliders.

Escher Quilt

This is the piece you see from the doorway – it’s straight ahead of you as you walk into the gallery space. At that distance you see the 3D illusion clearly.

Diamonds

This quilt also is striking when you see it hung. The shaded border, the asymmetry of the piece, the colour movement are all apparent.

Skyline #1
Skyline #2
Skyline #3

I forgot to take a photo showing the three Skyline quilts hanging side by each on the wall. They make a strong triptych which was my intention when I created these pieces.

Into The Future

Not for sale, but it’s one of my stronger pieces using the fabric photo appliqué technique. I was so lucky that the sunlight on the children blended so well with the setting I put them in – on Spring Garden Road beside the Public Gardens – the photo of the children was taken at the Toronto Zoo!

On Deck

These were all the pieces I had room to hang. I returned home with three quilts and nine wall art pieces. I could have crammed in a few more small hangings but when I stood back I decided less was more.

The show is on until August 19 when I go back to Parrsboro to take down the show and return the art to my closet. I need an agent in Toronto or New York – anybody got connections to someone who might be interested in representing a textile artist in a market that would understand the art and the work required to create it?