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.

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!

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.

Purple Poppies

This is the current state of my wall art piece. The purple poppies are pale. I could remove this fused appliqué, print new poppies, darken them with permanent markers, or work with the current appliqué and see whether I can intensify the colour by thread painting. I don’t know which to do yet, which is why I have done nothing, so far. Stopped. Dead.

Immobilized, I spent two days this past week reading “Prediction: A Pandemic Story” by Michael Lewis. While about our current pandemic, he grounds his narrative (as he always does) in presenting the stories of people who were reading the tea leaves based on what they were able to deduce about what happened in the 1918 flu outbreak, the asian flu I experienced in 1957, the impact of SARS in 2003, the swine flu epidemic that didn’t quite happen in 2009, which predisposed them to know another uncontrollable pandemic was inevitable and the steps they began taking to mitigate the anticipated disaster.

I read the book in two days – on my phone (I prefer reading on my iPhone rather than holding a book in my hands). I had a headache from so much reading, but I couldn’t stop.

Having lived through the past 18 months we know about the US government ineptitude but the reality as seen through the experiences of his central “characters” is compelling. “If only…” I kept saying to myself; so many people could have avoided becoming seriously ill, the numbers of deaths could have been so much lower, the impact on the economy would have been so much smaller.

In some ways, it’s too soon to write the book – we have not come to any end point in the pandemic, and Lewis’ “resolution” at the end is weak – of necessity because the pandemic is NOT over. Who knows when the disease will finally die down globally because until it does the virus will continue spreading and mutating.

Here’s another review of the book from the Irish times. But I recommend you read the book – I found it gripping.

I have also begun an online course offered by The World Bank: The Hidden Side of Energy Access: Understanding Clean Cooking. Who knew that 4 billion (yup, billion) people lack access to modern clean cooking options that allow them to cook conveniently, reliably, safely, and affordably. The problem is using non-clean energy sources impacts health, gender, climate, and environment. The costs of pollution from cooking with wood and charcoal, in other words, using unclean cooking sources, are enormous.

Not something I’ve ever thought about. I pull some stuff from my refrigerator, prepare it, cook it, without giving it a second thought. So I decided I’d learn something useful from the course. Well, I am, but oh, is it frustrating. This has got to be the most poorly designed learning experience I’ve ever tried. A number of years ago I participated in a World Bank course on climate change which was very engaging. Interesting reading, video, discussion. I gave the course quite a bit of time and learned some useful things. Here, each module consists of a collection of powerpoint slides with a gazillion acronyms (which I can’t remember – even MECS – modern energy cooking services – is stretching my brain. Then there’s MTF – the multi-tier framework for cooking – a tool for assessing the affordability, safety, convenience and availability for cooking). The course is all about memorizing stuff. Even the “discussion” forums are about regurgitating the dense content from the slides. The navigation is completely unintuitive, I’m forever fighting to find my way from one part of a module to the next.

Fortunately, there is a report on which the course is based. Here is a link to Access To Modern Energy Cooking Services. In our current climate crisis it’s probably useful to know something about this particular global factor which in some ways affects us, too.

I may quickly work through the remaining three modules, foregoing the exercises, quizzes and “discussion” to get an idea of the arguments. But I think I will take time to read the report – I have little patience for watching powerpoint slides – I’m a reader – I make sense through reading.

There are just not enough hours in a day to keep up with everything – the political news, learn new stuff, be creative….

I have to decide what to do with the Purple Poppies and then just get on with it!

At Five Islands – Completed

I finally finished the wall art piece yesterday. It took some time to do the careful hand stitching – to tack down the mitred corners, and the hidden binding and hanging sleeve on the back of the piece. It’s now done.

At Five Islands – Completed

The piece turned out to be a bit smaller than I was originally thinking about it: 21.5″ x 18.5″ – but it’s still a good size. Now to find a place to hang it in my place until it goes into the Art Labs exhibition during the summer.

It’s hard to tell from the photo that the grunge blue framing strengthens the blues of the sky and water and brings out the greens of the bank in front of Ruby. If you click on the photo you’ll be able to see the thread painting more clearly.

So this project is now completed. On to something else. Yesterday I brought out the bag with the diamonds pieces and put it on my cutting board. I want to see if I can salvage that project in some way before scrapping it permanently and moving on to something else. I still need to make two more quilts and some other small pieces before July – there’s time, I’m not panicked and if I don’t make my goal, I do have a closet full of finished quilts I can bring back for the show. I’d just like to get more new projects in the works.

Modern Flowers

When I finished the first modern flower appliqué wall piece a couple of weeks ago I decided I wanted to try a second hanging – this one laid out on the horizontal with a border but having some the flowers spill off the piece entirely. Also I didn’t just want to repeat the flowers in the first piece – this time I decided to use layers of offset circles, again with leaves flowing through the space.

Modern Flowers – II

Early in the week I took the black/white leftover pieces from the first hanging, created a centre panel, then added a white-on-white mitred border; next I backed the pieced fabric using medium weight woven fused interfacing to stabilize the panel so it will remain relatively flat through the thread painting process. That worked well on the previous piece – Floral Collage – I decided to try it again on this larger piece.

I had kept the pile of small fabric scraps I used on the first flower appliqué on my cutting table – I didn’t have to go looking for more. This morning I cut various size squares from the scraps, added fusible web to each square, then cut out circles from 1″-6″ in diameter. What I have at the moment is a tentative layout. I think I want to add stems and more leaves in a somewhat lighter green to complement the dark leaves I have already cut out.

That’s it for today. Tomorrow I’ll fuse the individual flower elements, cut out stems and more leaves, play with arrangement, next fuse the whole to the background. Then I’ll start thread painting. The temptation is to simple outline each circle using a narrow blanket stitch but I’m not sure I’ll do that – I may decide to use doubled embroidery thread and straight stitch several rows close to the edge – I’m sleeping on that.

Floral Collage – Finished

I also finished the floral collage this morning. I resumed thread painting when I got back from Toronto (visiting family) – adding stitching to the leaves, flower petals, and using an embroidery stitch I modified to provide a shaped satin stitch for the stamens. It’s not obvious, but I did quite a bit of stitching on this piece.

Floral Collage -m Finished

I wasn’t sure whether I liked the “raw edge” appliqué – I began by stitching the edge with a very narrow blanket stitch but didn’t like how it looked (it didn’t work with this fabric as well as it did with the printed bark cloth I used for Tropical Flowers); in the end I decided to do just a couple of rows of straight stitching (short stitch length, single embroidery thread) as close to the edge as I could get. Up close the raw edge seems to add to the delicacy of the  petals and leaves.

The lime green inner flange works well to tie the leaves and the greens in the bordering fabric together. While the batik is busy, the inner border separation keeps the flowers from being overwhelmed.

I’m pleased with the overall effect. In this piece I decided to have the flowers spill over into the border – this makes them stand out from the background.

The flowers look a bit like Cosmos, but the foliage is wrong. I’ve spent a bit of time trying to identify the blossoms but haven’t come up with anything definitive. The fabric designer may have just improvised.

The wall hanging is finished with a hidden binding. Final size: 14.5″ x 20.5″.

Found Art – Another Floral Collage

While I was working on “Flowers” I came across a fabric scrap from some zippered bags I’d made and thought the blossoms were interesting, sharply enough printed to allow some detailed thread painting, so I cut out what I could and here’s what I’ve come up with.

Found Art

The previous collage was contained within the framed area. I decided to try a piece that extended the flowers beyond the inner border.

For some reason, the large floral batik seems to complement the colours and after auditioning several pieces for the inner border I finally selected the lime which ties the piece and the wide outer border together. I’ll bind this work with a hidden binding.

So far I’ve stitched in stems to give the collage a bit of flow. Next I’ll do something with the leaves, then finally the flowers. Not sure where a signature will go – I’d intended it to be in the bottom right but I’ve brought the stems too far down leaving me w little short. There are a couple of options – I Have to keep thinking about it.