Friday, May 28, 2010

Terminate, cut up and discard the remains

Doesn't that sound like the plot of murder investigation? Sor
ry, I couldn't resist!

Now that I have terminated my 5 bags of fabric from my quilting world, they really haven't quite left yet. They have merely moved from my stash into the stash of our quilting group (part of which is stored at my house).

Our quilting group uses donated cotton fabrics to construct utilitarian quilts that we donate to local organizations. As we work on these quilts, I found we commonly used the fat quarter size or larger pieces. The smaller pieces which were oddly shaped were just being pushed aside and ignored and thus forever stored in my basement.

One day, I grabbed a bag of scraps and started pressing them and cutting them into squares. I made piles of 3", 4", 5", 6" squares, whatever I could manage to cut out of the piece. (Actually, I like cutting so this turned into an enjoyable time.)
Now instead of tangled up, raveling scraps, we had organized piles to work with. Amazingly, the fabrics disappeared, emerging into colorful scrap quilts.

So this brings me back to today. My project is to cut up my terminated fabrics (and try not to sneak any back into my stash) and discard the remains.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Today I was executioner!

Are there times that you don't feel in control of your life? There are so many situations that pop into our lives that we can't change or control. We become overwhelmed.

Today was a liberating day for me. I attacked something I could control. I turned my attention to my scrap box. Normally, I save my scraps because I may need a bit more of the fabric or the scraps may become part of a smaller project -- or that fabulous scrap quilt in my mind.

My scrap box was overflowing with bits and pieces. Did I truly plan to use these scraps? Have I gone in new directions and these pieces will not fit in? Am I tired of looking at these old fabrics?

The answer was a definite YES. So today, I was in control of their life span. I was judge, jury and executioner. It turned into a fun, liberating day. I TERMINATED 5 grocery bags of fabric. And, I didn't feel guilty at all.

Some of the fabric will be recycled into a donation for our charity quilting group. Other bits are just too small to be rescued. Just why was I saving such small pieces anyway?

I feel free. Tomorrow I will start anew refilling my scrap box.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Completion of "Dancing Trees"

I had a fun time quilting this project. I added stitching on the trees and some of the leaves. The contrast between the quilted leaves and the unstitched leaves gives a feeling of depth. The ground was enhanced with quilted "grass". The batik bottom border was finished with diagonal lines. Additional quilting was needed in the sky area. The brown border was quilted with vertical lines.

We all admire a quilt that lays flat and hang smoothly on the wall with no wobbles along the edge. One of the keys to that flat quilt is an equal amount of quilting over the surface. Intense quilting in only selected areas of the project will draw the fabric together and you will see the fabric pulling to that area. Often borders are insufficiently quilted resulting in a quilt that refuses to lay smooth. I've found that quilting that crosses that borders (i.e. crosshatching or vertical lines) helps to draw up the edge and straight line quilting that follows the length of the border tends to stretch the edge.

What are your favorite solutions to the perfect quilt?

Monday, May 24, 2010

Still Untitled

Bordering the quilt is the finishing touch for the quilt top. Additional hand-dyed silk, the same as was used for leaves, seemed to add color without taking away from the center of the quilt. The dark brown helped to enclose and finish the look. Because the light is coming from behind the trees, the dark border is perfect. To me, it is the vision of first light as I awaken.

Now it is time to prepare for the true glory of a quilted piece and that, of course, is the quilting itself. I have the edges pinned and have fused the batting to the quilt top and backing. (I am using Fusi-boo, a fusible cotton/bamboo batting for this project.) Even though the batting is fused in place, I found that it is still a good choice to hand-baste the edge of the quilt to keep the layers straight and in place.

Now to awaken the piece with quilting.

Sunday, May 23, 2010


I am up to the point of searching through my fabrics for a border option. I pulled out a colorful batik fabric which reflected the purples and yellows of the background. This could be a perfect solution to enhance the quilt. Unfortunately, no matter how well it matched, the batik was too powerful to use on all four sides as borders but it did add a lot when used only on the bottom of the quilt.

There are times when we may become too attached to a fabric that we love. The batik is so wonderful, it is hard not to overuse it. A bit will serve the purpose. I will force myself to use it correctly for the quilt and save the remainder for another day. (Unable to be ignored, the batik did push itself into the main part of the quilt. Small squares were added to the brown squares in the ground.)

Now on to the quest of finding the best border solution.

Remember to send your choices for names for "Untitled". Every quilt wants a name.

I'll be looking for your ideas.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Moving Along

As you can see, things are moving along on my little artwork. I cut more small leaves from the silk. This task, like placing your hands in a pan of hot, soapy dish water, is calming and meditative. I enjoy the moment. I gives me time to clear my head and let ideas swirl through my brain.

My creative spirit is calling and it is clear that if one sheer (the lace) is good, a second sheer could be even better. Diving into my stash, out pops a brown sheer that I fuse over the "ground" to add detail and dimension. My mind working quicker than my hand is now dreaming up other possible ways to use sheers.

Meanwhile, with the ground finished, I snip the remains of the brown sheer and add them as leaves to my trees. Progress is being made.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Working on a New Piece

I'm excited about the look of the background fabric. As I am thinking about my choice, I realize that perhaps I was influenced by the work of an artist friend, Nancy Laliberte. In her art pieces, "Carnival" and "Spring Green", (posted March 19-20, 2010) she made wonderful use of light coming from behind the trees. So often, I believe we are subconsciously influenced by the work of others. We see a major idea or just a tiny detail that sticks in our minds. It may be months or longer, but some day that idea spouts new life in our work.

As you can see, I am continuing to work on this small piece. I fused a paper backed adhesive to the lace and then fused it to the background. It worked but I was certainly glad I used a non-stick pressing sheet because the openness of the lace left a lot of room for the adhesive to come through.

I started cutting small leaves from a hand-dyed silk. The color seems to work well and give a soft look. Will the leaves have a glow against the morning sky?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A Creative Moment

When you walk into your studio what ideas speed through your mind? Do you have a project in mind and that is your only focus?

There are times when I am entirely focused on a project. There are times when deadlines are near and rapid progress is in order.

Yesterday was not one of those days. I walked into my studio with no great agenda. As I started straightening bits and pieces, I was drawn into a wonderful world of spontaneous creativity. Remainders of another project became trees. A multicolored fabric became an early morning sunrise behind those trees. Lace became the ground. In just a few minutes, a quilt starts to appear.

Now a time of reflection, in what direction will I be pulled? What details will enhance this basic skeleton of a design?

Where would you go?

Let your mind wander and open it to all ideas. Look around for creative opportunities and unique applications. Are you casually tossing aside the beginnings of your greatest works?

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Trying stitches

What can my sewing machine really do? I know that I use my sewing machine at its very minimum. Even though I don't have the embroidery features that many of you have on your machines, I do have a multitude of stitches that I never use. (And this goes back to every machine that I owned, well, except for my first machine that only did a straight stitch and a zigzag.)

Why do I have all these features if I never explore them? I could go back to my first machine, HA!

In an attempt to overcome my deficiencies, I tried some new stitches. This could be fun. Why would you want to use it right out of the box (that is, as it was designed to be used) when you have the option of making changes? After trying a few stitches at their default settings, I found one I could use at a free motion setting and make lovely swirls. This stitch has some possibilities. Maybe I could combine it with those left over color explosion bits and pieces.

I'll let the ideas swirl around in my head and see what flies out. Have you successfully (or not successfully) tried new stitches? What works for you?

Friday, May 14, 2010

Spare parts

While I am working on the quilting aspect of Color Explosion 2, I am thinking about the parts that were left over. They are full of possibilities and certainly can't be casually discarded. What do you see as options for using these parts? Do they spark your imagination? Do you see them as a puzzle that needs to be solved?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Color Explosion 2

Looking through an old copy of American Quilter, I read an article about the art quilts of Sandi Cummings. I thought it would be fun to try to make a quilt loosely based on her technique as described in the article. After the first step, cut two rectangles 11" x 13", I found I was already deviating from the part. But "reading the pictures" I followed the general idea and had a lot of fun creating this piece.

Choosing the fabrics took the most time. Of course, I found myself auditioning a great number of fabrics from my stash. Then came the point of only selecting a few of those fabrics. I realize that some of you may think there are a lot of different fabrics in this piece but to me there are only a few. I love scrap quilts and I do incorporate a vast number of different fabrics in most of my work.

I have the quilt pinned together and ready to quilt on this rainy day in May. Isn't it wonderful that we have our fabric to bring in the sunshine when the skies are gray?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Visiting the Capitol

On my recent trip to Monroe, two quilting friends and I stopped in Madison and toured the Wisconsin State Capitol. It has been restored to its original state and is definitely a grand building. I love architectural details and everywhere I look I see ideas for future quilts. These details may become applique, or inspiration for machine quilting.

Thanks, Mary and Elizabeth, for being great traveling companions and helpers along the way. Our lives are certainly enriched by all those whom we have long known and those we meet but for a brief moment.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Flowers for Mothers

I hope you all had a wonderful Mother's Day. I spend time with my family and counted my blessings in all their shapes and sizes and glowing personalities.

Today, I'm refreshed and anxious to get back to cutting and creating. I have so much fabric left to be transformed. As you go about your tasks for the day, reflect on your many blessings.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Opening Reception

Last evening I had a lovely time meeting people at the opening reception of my exhibit "Over the Porch Rail" at the Monroe Arts Center - Frehner Gallery in Monroe, WI. The gallery space is in a beautiful old church that is itself a work of art. Dunnell Kendrick, the gallery director, has been delightful to work with and very enthusiastic in her efforts to create a cohesive and inviting arrangement of the artwork.

If you are in interested in textile arts or have never yet had the opportunity to view textile art pieces, stop in for a visit. The exhibit runs until May 29, 2010.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Exactly Where Did This Come From?

Color Explosion
17" x 14"
2010 - Sharon V. Rotz

Here I have been enjoying delicate spring flowers and then go into my studio and come out with this. How did that happen?

My only thought is that the flowers have gone into my memory bank and have to spend some time traveling around in my head before they are turned into a quilt inspiration. Meanwhile, the fantastic colors of sunrises, new growth, and those violet blooms all "mushed" together and fabrics from my stash popped up to bring the excitement to life.

Your art should make you happy and this puts a smile on my face. It stretched me out of my comfort zone to stitch wavy pieces together and finish an uneven edge (after all those years of striving for straight edges).

Lesson for the day: Loosen up, loosen up, we must stay loose to be creative!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Delicate spring Beauty

As I continue on my spring walk, I come upon the delicate flowers of the wild blueberry plant. I love their bell shapes and the contrast between the dried leaves, the bright leaves and the white blossoms.

Could this become an artwork with three- dimensional bells lifting off the surface? What about a background randomly pieced with multiple tan fabrics? Or would the bright green leaves be the ones popping off the surface almost hiding the innocent blooms?

Where will this image take me?

And, when can I come back and find luscious, tasty blueberries ready to pick from my little plant?

Monday, May 3, 2010

Spring Inspiration

How can we not be inspired? How can we not be filled with joy? There is beauty all around us. I step outside and notice the tiny violets raising their heads above the wooden walkway. Even the tiniest cracks are overflowing with nature's grandeur.

I am storing this image in my memory to someday translate into an artwork. Will the colors be the inspiration? Will the lines and shapes? The contrast between the sunlight and the shadows? Or will the delicate violet itself be the focus? What is your choice?
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