Thursday, June 30, 2011

WVAG Art Opening

Ready for guests to arrive at the
Wisconsin Visual Artists' Guild Opening Reception 
at the Center for the Visual Arts in Wausau, WI. 
The exhibit runs through July 31, 2011.

For the past few years, I have had the opportunity to be a member of the Wisconsin Visual Artists' Guild. While I treasure my quilting friends and learn so much from them, I've also found I've learned a great deal from artists who work in different mediums.

The basic principles of art are the same no matter if you have a brush, a camera, or a needle and thread in your hand. These new friends come from different backgrounds and have different ideas to share. Ideas that stretch me out into thinking of my quilting projects in a different light.

As the days of summer roll along, take a moment to look for opportunities to broaden your ideas. What things spur your creativity? Perhaps a stroll through an art museum, a botanical garden, a trip to the zoo or splashing at a water park.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Right Side, Wrong Side, Which Side?

When it comes to using solid fabrics, batiks, and hand-dyed treasures in a quilt, we often can't tell the right side from the wrong side of the fabric. And, does it even matter?

As I was sewing on my latest project, I started to wonder about it. Clearly as I pieced these three strips of fabric together, it didn't seem to matter in the least if I used one side of the black or the other. The green batik also looked the same on both sides. In this case, if I had both of my seams on the same side of the fabrics I couldn't possibly mess this up.

But then I started piecing the next section of my project.

Daydreaming as usual, I started picking up pieces to stitch together. Was this the right side of the batik, or the wrong side? Of course, with only half of my brain engaged in this project and the other half  flitting around, would I make the correct choice? Probably not.

Something clicked at the last moment and I double-checked by re-laying out my pieces. It was then that I grabbed a chalk pencil and marked the backs of my pieces with a arrow pointing to the top of each piece.

Now I am safe, wrong sides are identified and so are the tops. Back to daydreaming. Maybe it will stop raining.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Sad Time for Art in Wisconsin

It was with a heavy heart that I was taking down my art display at the Wisconsin Arts Board Lobby Exhibit. There will be no more chances for artists to present their work in this fine venue. Because of heavy budget cuts, the Wisconsin Arts Board has almost been eliminated and with it tremendous opportunities for artists in the state.

Especially in hard times, art uplifts our spirits. Whether it is visual art, music, theatre, or written, we thrive on creativity to encourage and revive our lives.

Look for ways to show support for art in your community.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Watching the Personality Emerge

I've been busy in my studio working on another "pods" quilt. In this one, I've again played with multiple fabrics as I string-pieced strips to add complexity to various sections of the quilt top. The string-piecing and the interesting batik combine nicely with lots of visual interest. The strips of hand-dyed turquoise give a resting place for a eye.

My piece is starting to shape up but despite the colorful mixture of movement and activity, it still lacks a personality. This is where the quilting stitches come in.

As quilting lines appear, my quilt top is beginning to show its new-found personality. Additional shapes are emerging from the fabric. Other shapes are emphasized by rows of stitching. Stippled sections provide texture and relief in contrast to the stitched pods.

Each quilting stitch adds more and more to the depth, the detail and the overall personality of the artwork. Yes, we need those quilting stitches to hold the work together and provide stability but they are all so much more important to the personality of our finished project.

Do you have a project that came alive when you quilted it?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

What's Right in Front of my Nose

"We See, They See", detail
Sharon V. Rotz

It's not picking out the pattern. It's not choosing the colors. It's not selecting the fabrics. Ask any quilter and they will tell you, one of the hardest decisions they make is determining how to quilt their project.

Should there be feathers, should there be swirls, crosshatching, stitching in the ditch, or the old stand-by, meandering across the entire quilt? Or should I by-pass the whole decision by dropping it in the hands of my machine quilter?

I love to look to my fabrics for the quilting solution. In this case, my fabric is shouting and I just have to see "what's right in front of my nose".

My background fabric has quilting tracks just waiting for my needle to follow.  I may have to adapt slightly as I go but the clue that my fabric holds is pointing me the direction that I need to go. The look of angles and cracked surface will be perfect for the background of my crane.

Today, look at your fabric and see what quilting clues may be revealed.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Teaching and Sharing

I love teaching and helping students learn a new technique. The down side is the fact that I seldom get to see the student's finished quilts. It is a special treat when one of my students sends a photo of her completed project. Today, I want to thank Sally Nesser for sharing her quilted project.

Sally was busy sewing together strips into "freedom quilt" log cabin blocks as she emptied her scrap bag (or at least put a dent in it). These blocks were then cut on a tilt for a carefree attitude. Fat or thin, bright or dull, left over fabric strips were all incorporated into this fun-loving quilt.

To quote Sally: "It was one of the first things that got me out of my traditional mode. I had no idea when I started it where it was going but then realized I had the perfect spot for it in our larger quest bed room. It really adds some color to an other wise peaceful room."

Here you can see Sally's freedom quilt hung over the bed in her guest room. Who wouldn't want to be invited to spend the night in this inviting space?

Intrigued? Look for my book "Log Cabin Quilts with Attitude" full of "freedom quilt" ideas.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Adding Shots of Complexity

Bing! Bang! Pop! Add a shot of complexity to your project.

I love to make sections of my quilts really pop with the use of multiple fabrics instead of just one. This not only add complexity to the work but also adds individuality. Here I have "string pieced" a quilt section by stitching and flipping fabrics to entirely cover the template piece.

I then cut the piece to the correct size adding seam allowances. This section now incorporated the fabrics used throughout the quilt. 

As you can see with the section laid in place, the attention that it draws to that area of the quilt. 

25" x 33"
Sharon V. Rotz

The finished project complete with "shots of complexity" added.

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