Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Hexagon quilt?

Still trying to settle on a design for those gray fabrics, how about a hexagon quilt? I just read some tutorials on sewing hexagons with the machine, without even having to mark 1/4" marks on the ends... looks a bit challenging, especially the bit about making sure the direction of the grain is consistent in the rows... Hmm. That's not quite my style BUT I'm thinking this quilt might be fun to make, especially if I can find a way to make the ends float into a border somehow...

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Gelli plate plus: online class by Carla Sonheim

Now I'm taking a mini online class by Carla Sonheim called Gelli Plate Plus. I've used a gelatin plate once before and posted about it here. That time I made my own plate out of unflavored Knox gelatin. Subsequent to that I started using a sheet of glass to do printmaking-like things. I wouldn't quite say 'printmaking'... Here are some of my exploits in printmaking: where I played around with leaves; printing with ink and stencils; and monoprinting with cut paper.

I did buy a gelli plate (a small one, about 6"x6") after my adventures with making my own gelatin plate, but I hadn't ever gotten around to using it. So I pulled it out and followed the instructions/ideas in Carla's class video. I decided to use the idea of my sombrero man from last week's class, and traced around him and cut him out to use as a guide for painting under the gelli plate. I used a bright orange C.P. Cadmium Orange Golden Open Acrylics paint, which is the orange in the left side of the plate in the picture below (so on the right side of the pull at the top of this post) - I absolutely ADORE this orange- it's fabulous and exactly the orange I've been looking for all my life! Seriously, though, I really have been looking for a brilliant vibrant orange. So I'm REALLY EXCITED about this one.
Then I painted onto the plate and pulled off a print. I made 5 prints total after adding subsequent layers of paint to the plate. My favorite is the first one (top left). But they all look so colorful especially when placed together like this:
I used an acrylic medium slow-drying blender to increase the amount of time to work with the paints, since the only 'open' paint I have is that new orange acquisition I raved about earlier.
Here are some 30-second sketches I made the other day. I want to work on faces. I sketched the face shape then decided this guy looked like he should be a chef so I added the jacket and hat (and mustache):
And this one is a doctor, which of course is obvious by the stethoscope around his neck:
Happy Art-making!

Edit 2/26 - here are two prints I made tonight for Exercise 2 in Carla's class, using a three-color transparent layer technique. After I scanned these, I used the eraser in Gimp to clean up a bit in between some of the marks where I didn't wipe down the plate completely... so consider this traditional printmaking plus digital editing- ha!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Bird & Dog All Year - collage/painting Process Post

This is from Day 4 and Day 5 of the Between Speech and Silence online art class by Diane Culhane that I talked about in my previous post. First I made a colorful underpainting with acrylic paints on a gessoed wood board (8"x8"):
Added torn magazine pieces:
Started painting some shapes/outlines, settling on a birdhouse and doghouse too:
I drew a bird sitting in a nest on the roof of the doghouse at one point but didn't like it so I painted it out - you can see all that purple mess on the left side of the doghouse roof, that's where the nest/bird was:
Then I kept adding color:
I added a few details with black pen to some of the leaves and on the houses. I also added some dots and stars to the background with black pen but didn't like the way they looked so I painted them out. Here is my "final" piece:
I enjoyed the week-long class by Diane Culhane and would recommend it to you if you're looking for a few fun and simple exercises to spark your creative/colorful mood or just want to learn some new techniques. I'm calling this 'Bird & Dog All Year' because even though you can't see Bird and Dog in this painting, seeing their houses makes me think about the interactions of bird and dog all year, Dog watching Bird, Bird watching Dog, Dog chasing Bird, etc.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Online art class: Diane Culhane's Between Speech and Silence

I'm taking an online art class this week by Diane Culhane called 'Between Speech and Silence - it's hosted at Carla Sonheim's blog. It's got some line drawing/coloring (above is my results from Day 1), some collage, and some painting. The nice thing about it is I can go at my own pace, so if I miss a few days, it's no big deal, the videos are still there for me to watch another day. Tonight I did the Day 2 exercise which involves tearing out magazine pieces then gessoing over a 'shape' - I picked colors and textures from the magazines that I thought were really pretty or interesting, then layered them to come up with this:
Then I looked at the page, rotating it to try and see something in there. I finally noticed this triangle and thought of a little guy in a sombrero dancing a jig and shouting 'Ole!' It made me laugh.
So I drew around the shapes, and really didn't want to lose all the lovely color I had put on the rest of the page so I drew a tree and some leaves and some floating balls to preserve the colors.
Then I covered most of it with gesso. It makes me smile to see the little guy dancing.
There is more to the project which I'll do another day. I recommend you take Diane's class if you're interested in doing a few exercises to motivate your creativity and playfulness. There are some other good classes listed on Carla's blog as well.

Edit 2/21 - here is my finished painted collage of the sombrero man:

Monday, February 17, 2014

Puzzle quilt: process post/Tutorial

I've made this kind of quilt three times now, first with Izabella's Puzzle:
then as a green/blue/yellow quilt for a baby:
then as Patriot's Puzzle (the red/white/blue quilt):
You can read my post about my process using EQ6 software to sort out the idea for Patriot's Puzzle in case you're looking to do a similar thing and can't decide where to start, i.e. what fabrics to use, how many of each fabric, etc - keeping in mind that you don't need any special software - you really can just pull out some paper and colored markers. I still do that, sometimes using graph paper when I'm first considering a design or layout.

Yesterday I pulled out my stash and sifted through it, looking for some kind of inspiration for a baby quilt (the one I've been trying to design for a stack of gray fabrics) - the baby is due in a few weeks so I'm really feeling like I need to just settle on something. I decided to pull out every color that was not 'girly' since the baby is a boy. I made a pile of every blue, green, yellow, and black fabric, as well as a few oranges, reds and purples that read as blues and grays. Here is the pile:
Well, as nice as it is to have a pile of fabrics to work with, it really wasn't very helpful in getting me closer to my goal of picking a design. So this morning, after mulling some more about the idea of the quilt, I sat down again and sifted through the pile, pulling out anything that was not blue or black. There were some greens that begged to remain so I sorted my final pile into things that read green, things that read turquoise, then blue/purple, grayish blue, straight blue, black, gray and white:
As I was sorting them like that, my mind went back to the green/blue/yellow baby quilt and I decided I would make another puzzle quilt with these fabrics. I used EQ6 to change the coloration on the green/blue/yellow baby quilt to more of a gray/blue with some green:
I plan to leave the white-on-white border area and there won't be as many greens as show up in this mock-up. I will also add in a significant amount of gray/black, especially prints that read one or the other, so I will probably leave out some of the busier black/white prints. Now I'll make another pass through the rows of fabric and weed out anything that screams too busy or not right. Then I'll make sure I have enough lights, enough darks, and the rest mediums. Here's another mock-up with more blacks/grays/blues (keeping in mind how incredibly limited the palette is of 'fabrics' in EQ - I think you can upload or import additional fabrics but I haven't done that so I've only got about 3-5 of each color to work with):
I think the real visual impact of this type of quilt is accomplished by ensuring sufficient contrast in value (light vs. dark) in the pieces and how they are matched up. This is done in three steps - 1- ensure you have true lights and true darks (if all your selected fabrics read as 'medium' value, you won't achieve the necessary contrast); 2 - when pairing up the squares to be sewn into half-square triangles, make sure some of the lights are with darks, some mediums with lights, some darks with mediums, etc; and 3- arranging the squares on the design wall - I can spend hours and hours on this part (spread over weeks and months), rearranging until the placement is visually pleasing to me. For me, I like to have stark contrasts of light vs. dark, but then parts that blend together so that the dark/light parts really do stand out compared to the overall quilt. But I do also like to create a balance, so that one side isn't 'heavier' visually speaking, than the other, as a result of the contrasting fabrics.

I'll post Part 2 later, once I've picked out which fabrics I've used and once I've cut the squares for the half-square triangles (follow the link to find a tutorial for making half-square triangles). If I cut 6" squares, then square up the half-square triangles to 5.5", each finished square would be 5" (since it's 10 squares x 10 squares), so the finished quilt (without a border) would be 50"x50", a fine size for a baby quilt. I only need to cut 100 squares for this quilt, but I'll cut 120 to give myself some variety for the design wall auditioning process. I just counted my rows of fabrics and there are 202 - so that's plenty to choose from and narrow down to 120. I think at this point it really does become an intuitive process- I sift and sift and just keep getting rid of things that don't 'feel' right for the project.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Log Cabin?

How about one of these old-school log-cabins for the gray fabrics? These all look the same except how the blocks are rotated and the way I put in the colors was random.

These colors have the same placement in each block - I don't like it. I mean, obviously there are limitations with EQ6 versus using real fabrics for a mock-up... But I think what is really causing me difficulty in settling on a design is my limitation in just using gray - no color! That is completely foreign to me...

Or perhaps something like this:
Or here is a take on Robbing Peter to Pay Paul, using triangles instead of circles - this goes from all darks in the inner box and all lights in the outer box in the upper left, to all lights in the inner box and all darks in the outer box in the lower right:

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Star quilt: EQ6 mock-up

I'm still trying to figure out what to do with this pile of grays....
With sashing:

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Dimensional Chevron quilt: Process post

I saw a design on a wall in a building from the 1920s, but was not in a position to take a good photograph. This was what I got with my camera:
I could see that the effect was accomplished by using a light, dark and medium to make it look dimensional (the photograph does not do it justice). But I wasn't sure, just looking at it briefly, how to figure out what the dimensions of the block should be or how to calculate it. So I set about with paper and pen trying to recreate the design to see how to put it together. Since it was tri-lateral (is that a word?) I decided the angle was probably 60 degrees (1/3 of 180 degrees) - see? My high school trigonometry class DID come in handy in the real world! I used a protractor I printed from the internet.
Then I added another unit, checking my photo for reference.

I filled in the pieces with green marker to really make the dimensional quality of the design stand out:
Then I scanned my drawing and drew parallel lines on it to break it up into pieces to look for a pattern on how to assemble fabric to accomplish the design.
At first I thought I would need to use a combination of parallelograms and equilateral triangles, but then I saw that the image is really just composed of a bunch of equilateral triangles.

So I composed a simple block in EQ6, tiled it and filled in the color, using a light, medium and dark. Here is the image with the visible lines - you can see the triangles and how easy this would be to put together.
I suppose I could sew all those Y-seams together if I used solid chevron pieces. It wouldn't be any different, technically speaking, than stitching hexagons together. Though I've never done that before either. And I probably won't attempt it any time soon. If I really stuck to lights, mediums and darks, I think this could look pretty cool with fabric. I'm calling this the "Dimensional Chevron" or maybe "Stacked Cubes" or something unless anyone knows any other name for it.

Here is a colored version with a border that allows for termination of all the pieces in their entirety - though I really don't like that top middle and bottom middle part - not sure what to do in that space. Any ideas?

Sunday, February 2, 2014


What about this for a quilt?
This is based on this doodle I made years ago:
More color options: