Brown Bag Challenge

I recently participated in a brown bag challenge with my art quilting group. Each participant was asked to bring three items in a brown lunch bag to be used in a small art quilt. Everyone took home a random bag that wasn’t their own, and had two months to use the items to create a 12″x12″ art quilt.

I was so excited as I opened my brown bag because I knew instantly that my friend Jackie had placed the items I found within it.

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It contained cuts of 5 hand-dyed fabrics, a baggie of colorful marble-sized  woolen balls and half-dollar-sized woolen discs, and a playfully tied bundle of silk ribbon and perle cotton embroidery floss.

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The planning begins! A preliminary layout for the fabric, and a sketch for the embroidery.

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The pieced base layer takes shape.  Jackie’s hand-dyes were supplemented with a few from my stash.

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The completed piece. The original design was rearranged to incorporate a quote from Rumi that I heard while working on the embroidery: “This turning toward what you deeply love saves you.” It resonated with me in a way that I thought Jackie might feel too.

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The complete poem is printed onto fabric and applied to the back side.

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Into the Blue

I got to play with silk dyes this week! So much fun now that I have a proper frame for stretching my silk. Hubby built me a simple frame out of 1×4’s with a 14″ x 72″ opening. I tack damp silk in the opening, and I have a perfectly stretched canvas for silk painting.

silk scarf with glue resist

silk scarf pinned to frame

First, I used a favorite serti-resist method, with Elmer’s washable school glue. I drew lines and shapes with the glue directly onto the silk.

silk scarf with glue resist

silk scarf with glue resist

After the glue was dry, I painted the spaces within the glue lines with Jacquard Green Label silk dyes. I love these dyes because they can be mixed and lightened with the addition of water.

I also like the way they react to rock salt and rubbing alcohol to add texture to the surface.

After letting the dye dry for 24 hours, I set the dye by steaming the scarf. I don’t have any special apparatus for this. I roll the scarf in blank newsprint and place it on a rack in my canning kettle above boiling water for 30 minutes.

The glue can be rinsed out of the silk with a mild detergent (I use Woolite) and some mild scrubbing with an old soft toothbrush. It helps to let the scarf soak before scrubbing.

glue-serti dyed silk scarf

glue-serti dyed silk scarf

Loving my new frame and too impatient to wait for glue to dry again, I dyed the next couple of scarves without a resist.

These scarves were painted without a resist

These scarves were painted without a resist

For this one, I painted arcs of varying shades of blue and green. Then I sprinkled rock salt over the wet dye to pull the dye and form the interesting concentrations of dye.

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Freehand painting, with rock salt effects

For this scarf, I relied on rubbing alcohol to help disperse the dye and form rings. For each ring, I dropped a 50% alcohol/water mix onto the silk, and then painted a circle around the drop. This kept the dye from filling in the circle. I covered the silk with circles in this manner and them the dye dry completely before adding another layer, then another, then another.

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Freehand painting, with rubbing alcohol effects

So many beautiful scarves, so few days to wear them!

Whorl

(noun \ˈhwȯr(-ə)l, ˈwȯr(-ə)l, ˈ(h)wər(-ə)l\) something that whirls, coils, or spirals or whose form suggests such movement.

This small art quilt started as an exploration of texture. As many of my pieces, it was prompted by a monthly challenge from my Art Quilt Group.

I first hand-dyed a length of fine china silk, then started tucking and gathering with matching thread. I didn’t have any plan for the final outcome; it evolved organically into the nautilus shape. The silk was backed by a double layer of cotton batting, then embellished with glass beads and my favorite variegated silk embroidery floss. Finally, I finished the edges in the naturally irregular shape it had become, and mounted it on a crisp-cornered pillowcase-finished eggplant Kona cotton base.

Bonus! See this piece, three others of mine, and many other fine works by my Art Quilt Group at the June 2016 Art Hop at Ninth Wave Studio in Kalamazoo. June 3, 2016 5pm-8pm.

To Have and to Hold and to Snuggle

My awesome nephew Bryan is going to marry this wonderful young lady in a few months.  Morgan’s bridal shower was yesterday, and I couldn’t have been more excited as she unwrapped this throw quilt I made for them.  I used about 16 different text fabrics, most with expressions of love, and worked in their initials to personalize it.  Best wishes, Morgan and Bryan!

Evan's Quilt

Evan’s Baby Quilt

My third grandson, Evan, arrived in August, and I just completed a play quilt for him in time for Christmas. It’s about 42″x52″ and made of commercial cottons in primary and secondary solids, and black/white prints. I machine quilted it in spiral patterns with my awesome Juki TL2010-Q.

Evan's Quilt

Evan’s Quilt

Evan on his new quilt

Evan on his new quilt

The design is original and all for Evan. I wanted the color palette to be similar to the two quilts I made earlier for his older brothers, Austin and Landon.

Landon's Quilt

Landon’s Quilt, 2012

Austin's Quilt

Austin’s Quilt, 2010

Synapses

"Synapse" 20"x30" hand-painted silk, hand embroidered and beaded.

“Synapse” 20″x30″ hand-painted silk, hand embroidered and beaded.


 

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“Synapse” detail

The challenge was to create an art quilt depicting “connections.”

My response is entitled “Synapse.”

This is a wholecloth quilt. I used Jaquard Green Label silk dyes with the serti resist method to paint this 20″ by 30″ piece of china silk. I machine quilted along the cell walls and dendrites. I embellished by hand with silk floss and glass beads.

"Synapse," detail

“Synapse” detail

The brain has trillions of synapses.

At synapses, neurons release neurotransmitters that are picked up by their neighbors, carrying signals from cell to cell. These signals form memories and thoughts. The long, branchlike projections of brain cells are called axons and dendrites. These projections carry synaptic messages, integrating all the information a cell receives.

Intelligence is dictated by a brain’s underlying organization and molecular activity at its synapses.

Damage to dendrites is associated with depression and despair.

Alzheimer’s disease disrupts both the way electrical charges travel within cells and the activity of neurotransmitters between cells.