Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Value, value, value

When we are consider our fabric, we look for "star power" and we look for "background singers". In other words, we need a dominate fabric (or fabrics) which engages us. Then we need more subtle fabrics to compliment this dominant fabric.

But one thing, we've failed to mention is the value of these fabrics. Very often, our dominate fabric is a medium value and we may have chosen more medium values as our complimentary fabrics. We also need to chose fabrics, not looking at the color but at the value.

If you have trouble determining the value of a fabric, look at it through a value finder (red glass or plastic), through a camera lens or from a distance of 6 feet or more. What happens is that the color is obscured and you will be viewing the value of the fabric. Really stumped, a black and white copy of the fabric will completely eliminate the color, leaving only the value.

Why is value so important? This is what adds definition to our shapes, and added interest to our project. It is what creates a picture out of color moosh.

I fine-tuned my project colors by adding more contrasting values and started making log cabin style blocks.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Backup singers

As I gave my bright colors a second look, I realized that I had great choices but things were lacking. Imagine a football field and all the players are quarterbacks, or a stage filled only with lead singers. Yes, this is what I had.

This is how we usually make our choices. First, we pick our "star" fabric, but then we have to go further to pick our "back-up singers". These are fabrics which compliment our star without overshadowing it. Various patterns, tone on tone, graphic designs such as stripes, or small repeated dots add variety and interest to our color palette. We also have to choose a stage or a field of play, our background. Will it be warm, with underlying red or yellow tones? Will it be cool, soft blues or greens? Will it be neutral? Is there truly a neutral, even these have undertones?

So far, I have not deviated from my bright and saturated choices. Will I be overwhelmed?

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Quilted and Finished (At Last)

(for now)
22" x 26"
Sharon V. Rotz

I know both you ...and I ....thought I would never finish this small landscape. But, I did it! Even if the process was a bit unconventional.

I do dominate "quilter detention". Before the quilting in the center of the quilt was finished, (We all know this is the "correct" way to work on any project.) I had the borders quilted and, yes, half of the binding stitched in place.

As you see, I did go back and finish quilting the center. You gave me thoughtful suggestions about the border and I will keep them in mind for my next landscape quilt, but I am satisfied with the border as it is. To me, it frames the landscape giving the impression of one looking out a window or perhaps through the bushes. There are multiple ways of solving any problem and the joy of being the creator of an artwork is that we can pick and choose from those options. We may make the best choice or not, and that is always a subjective decision -- hurray for art critics! The main thing is that we are unafraid to try a new or different approach.

But, again, I would love your input. What suggestions do you have for a name for this quilt?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Brightening up my day

Color can reflect your mood or your personality. I've been trying to finish my landscape quilt, but I am having trouble keeping at it. The toned browns and greens are fighting with me. Maybe its the weather, maybe its my mood, or maybe these colors will never be my favorites.

To sweeten up my day, I've been selecting bright and cheerful fabrics for my next project. Already my disposition is improving. I can't wait to get started. Tomorrow will be fun.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Back to Quilter Detention

There are rules. There are definite rules about how things are to be done. There are rules about the order of quilting a project. And, none of those rules state that you can quilt the borders before the center of the quilt.

Another rule broken ........and............ I'm off to quilter detention.
(When I think about it, I've probably spent a good deal of my life there.)

My story is this: I didn't feel like quilting the center.
I stitched along the dark strip dividing the center from the border. I then started on the center but was more excited about "smooshing" down the border to see how it would look when it was quilted. Since the quilt was stabilized with the stitching between the center and the border, would it really make a difference which got done first on this small project?

What do you think? How long do I sit in detention?

Quilting Art Interview

I was recently contacted by Quilting Arts about my latest textile art exhibit. How exciting is that! Quilting Arts magazine is a fabulous source for creativity, full of tips and techniques for all who love fabric and fibers.

You are invited to connect to the online interview.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

What's Good? What's Too Much?

I've added borders on my landscape quilt. I wanted to try "string" borders. I used a muslin base for each square (or rectangle) in the border. I stitched and flipped narrow strips until I completely covered the muslin. It was lots of fun because you get to play with an assortment of fabric and use up small scraps because, of course, we never want to throw anything away.

I felt it gives an abstract look to the edge of the quilt. Perhaps, you are looking through the leaves into a sheltered forest spot. But, does the abstract border claim your attention, drawing it away from the center of the quilt? Is it too much?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


As I was going through a box of fabric, I found this landscape which I started many years ago. How it got folded up in a box of fabric I don't know. This is what happens when you clean, things get put away never -- well, almost never-- to be found again.

Many quilters would probably recognize the style of this piece. Natalie Sewell and Nancy Zieman have made it quite popular over the years. Although, it may not rank up there with some of the more detailed landscapes of Natalie and Nancy, I do like the piece and think it deserves to be finished. And, finished is always good.

I have already added a narrow strip of dark brown to outline the piece and will have fun thinking up unique borders.

Do you have a treasure waiting to be found?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

More about Color

Uninhibited Growth
40" x 34"
Sharon V. Rotz

Complementary colors are those which are opposite each other on the color wheel. The use of a complementary color brings out the best in its opposite. We all recognize the power of red and green together. We've loved it forever as our favorite Christmas color combination.

Did you know that in the correct proportion, complementary colors balance each other and we then have a neutral? In "Uninhibited Growth", I made a vibrant border of red and green strips. These colors are fully saturated, nothing shy and retiring about them. Yet, they don't seem to dominate the quilt. Using equal amounts of red and green (their color balance point), they work to neutralize themselves.

Learning more about color is exciting and never ending.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Exploring color

I have always loved color and read everything I can about color relationships and color theory. Of course, reading about it isn't half as much fun as exploring and play with color and how spaces can change with the use of different colors. As I was digging in my pile of quilts, I came upon this table size three block quilt which was one of the first quilts I made. (No starting with a simple nine patch for me.)

I remember the block was from a Jinny Beyer book. It's machine pieced and hand quilted with puffy polyester batting. The reason I'm posting this quilt is because it really shows the difference color placement can make. Each of the three blocks is made from the same pieces, the only difference is the color of the pieces. I believe, the block was named "castle wall", and I can just see the sun hitting the top of the castle, spreading out to the corner turrets and then bathing the castle in full sunlight. (right to left)

When we look at red, it seems to advance and appear closer to us. Blue recedes and tends to separate. I just read it has to do with how our eye sees. To focus on red, our eye changes and becomes more convex and things are closer. To focus on blue, our eye flattens and things appear further away. Interesting, isn't it?

This coming Saturday, I will be giving a talk on color at the Madison Quilt Expo. Maybe I will see you there.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Your Chance for Great Artwork

Hergert.jpgJoin in the fun at the 2010 SAQA's Benefit Auction. Bid on your favorite artwork and proceeds will go to promoting Studio Art Quilt Associates' exhibits and outreach efforts. This is a great chance to purchase original fiber art by your favorite artist. One of my favorites is pictured above. "Nature: personification of Chaos and Order" was made by Anna Hergert.

Check it out at SAQA's website. The bidding starts on Monday, September 20th.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Hand stitched details

I am adding some close-up shots because I realized that it is really difficult to see the details of my quilted tile, Lavender Grass. Often my work is noted for color combinations but in this piece, the stitching is more noteworthy.

It was enjoyable to try a new combination of stitches and threads. The green background was free motion quilted (stitching with the feed dogs down) so it was easy to move the fabric in an up and down motion creating the grass (and securing the layers together).

A pale lavender sheer was heated to the point at which the fibers started to melt and deform, giving it an interesting bumpy texture. This can be done carefully over a heat source such as a candle. There is a little experimentation involved, too close and the fabric melts entirely or, worse yet, becomes a glowing fire. (See why a save environment is important!) Just close enough to the heat and you will have get a randomly textured surface that holds its shape and doesn't ravel, ready for your moment of creativity.

I used my sheer for the misty look of the spent grass and added hand stitching using 2 stands of embroidery floss. For the dainty yellow flowers, I used pearl cotton in my needle and make colonial (candlewicking) knots.

To complete the upper portion of the tile, I changed to a silver metallic thread in my needle and hand stitched using a back stitch. This stitching is difficult to see on the photo, but it not only serves to quilt the layers together, but adds barely noticed grass skeletons to complete my roadside image.

Have you experimented with a new technique today? Do you have a stitch or method to share?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Technology or not?

Lavender Grass
8" x 8"
Sharon V. Rotz

It's interesting the turns your day takes.

We just had a problem with our internet working. After 1-1/2 hours on the phone with the tech, finding flashlights, crawling under desks, unplugging and replugging cords and following advice with not results, he finally decided we had an issue. An issue?..... really? Isn't that why I called in the first place?

The next day, they finally got the problem resolved and our house is full of once again smiling faces......for a short time, at least. Two hours later during a nice little rainstorm our electricity goes out. So much for technology and the conveniences of modern life.

I ended up doing hand stitching on this small quilted tile while sitting out on the porch. There was just enough natural light. The setting was peaceful and calm with just a hummingbird buzzing past. The moment was a blessing, a tranquil moment from our busy lives.

Maybe tomorrow I'll turn everything off and enjoy the day again.

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