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.

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.

Fish 4

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.

Fish #4

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.

Seaweed stitched

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.

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.