September 21, 2015
I am pleased to reveal my latest work, Raccoon and Apple. It is part of my ongoing Flora and Fauna series, where I work with skulls of the native wildlife here in Pennsylvania, USA.
It feels like a very cheerful and life-affirming art quilt to me. I love all the detail on the cyanotype prints.
Most of the patchwork is made of silks, with some commercial and hand-painted cottons. I’ve done my best to capture it photographically, but like all fiber art, it’s even better in person where you can appreciate the texture and the shimmer.
This panel of vintage needlework took on a new life when I painted and stitched it. I like moving the tradition of quilting forward.
You can track this work back as a work in progress by clicking on Raccoon and Apple in the sidebar.
Thanks as always for reading and commenting.
September 18, 2015
The opening reception at the PA Governor’s Residence for the Pennsylvania Arts Experience installation was excellent. Over 70 artworks were on display in the elegant public spaces of the residence, expertly placed by curator Rob Evans. There I am above, with my Watt & Shand #3, in the State Dining Room, and below is a wider shot. I enjoyed looking at all the art and saying hello to the other artists and friends attending. There is a stunning amount of talent represented in this organization.
And after torrential downpours the day before, the weather cooperated with picture perfect conditions, low 70s and scattered clouds. About a dozen artists set up to create en plein air in the gardens around the residence. There were painters, a sculptor, a performance artist, and myself. I’d never done work on site in public before, so I was excited to give it a try.
I found a good spot with a view of a spectacular magnolia tree, and broke out my needlefelting supplies. My plan was to create an impressionistic scene with wool and wool roving. The green and yellow tool is a hand needlefelting punch. It has needles with tiny barbs that entangle the fibers and lock them together. It’s a very slow method, like a lot of my work, and I was happily interrupted frequently by visitors curious about the process. I had a lot of fun explaining to adults and kids, and giving them bit of roving to handle. I love that fiber is such a tactile medium, and the way it speaks to everyone.
I usually work in quiet and solitude in the studio, so it was challenging to figure what to focus on creatively with all the outside stimulation. I got the background blocked out and laid in, put in the skeletal framework of the magnolia tree, and started on some rosebushes while on site. Below is how it looked at the end of the day: Back at the studio, I spent some time tightening everything up by working on it with the needlefelting machine. This device looks like a sewing machine, but in place of a threaded needle it has a cluster of barbed needles just like the hand punch. It does a great job of locking everything together, and saves my hands and wrists a lot of trauma. The piece now looks like this:
That’s just the beginning. I will build up texture and color on the background and add the leaves and flowers, and then detail it even more with stitching. But I am very happy with this start, and even more pleased that I took a chance on trying something new and working outdoors. I’m already filled with ideas on how to improve the presentation the next an opportunity presents itself.
September 11, 2015
I finally worked the overall design to a place I was happy with The addition of the bright magenta silk strips really added unity and dynamics, and I was able to finish out piecing and fitting together the quilt top. Next I painted the back. This part is just for my own amusement, as the back is not generally viewed in an art quilt, but it makes me happy while I am doing the quilting if the back is cheerful.
I spread my backing white backing fabric on a tarp in the driveway and dribbled and swirled textile paint on it.
Next, I hit it with a fine mist from the hose, to let the colors blend. As it dried in the sun, the colors wicked and blended more, and gave me this kind of beauty.
Finally, another round of quilting on the image panels, and lots of grid-style quilting on the rest of the top.I do my quilting on a domestic machine (i.e. a regular machine, not a mid arm or long arm built specifically for quilting), so it’s very labor intensive and I spend a lot of time up close and personal with the work. I am meticulous about my craftsmanship, but also allow my stitching enough variability that you can see the hand of the maker in my work.
Next – the big reveal!
September 8, 2015
While I was working on the overall design, I did the first round of stitching on the prints. The skulls got a lot of detailed outline work, and were filled in with pebble stitching.
The apple prints were outlined, leaf veins added, then echo stitched.
I always add a vintage component to the Flora and Fauna works, and for this one I chose a vintage embroidery of a lily from my collection, to represent the lilies that grow under my apple tree. It lacked punch, so I painted inside the embroidered lines, then stitched and echo stitched it.
At that point it had a bit too much punch, and the large proportion of white space was distracting in the overall design. So I did some dry brush work over the echo stitched lines, just hitting the ridges, and liked the effect very much.