Rhythm of the Rails

Rhythm of the Rails (39" x 43")

Rhythm of the Rails (39" x 43")

Rhythm of the Rails is the third and final quilt that I submitted to QuiltCon this year.  It made the cut which made me very happy!  I really love this one.  Rhythm of the Rails was started in a class with Maria Shell.  During class the vertical arrangement started to remind me of railroad tracks.  This quilt represents the pure joy of playing with solid colors.  I can almost hear the rhythm in my head.

Speaking of QuiltCon, I'll be there on Thursday, Friday and the first part of Saturday.  I have several lectures to go to, but I'm not taking classes.  I will also be taking my sketchbook out with me to sketch around town.  On Saturday I'm heading to San Diego to see my daughter and have a little R&R.  I'm looking forward to it!

2017 Rhythm of the Rails (5).JPG
2017 Rhythm of the Rails (6).JPG
2017 Rhythm of the Rails (21).JPG

Every Last Piece

Every Last Piece (41" x 39")

Every Last Piece (41" x 39")

Every Last Piece was the second quilt submitted to this year's QuiltCon.  It didn't make the cut, but I thought it was the one with the least chance of making it.  This quilt came right out of the scrap bin with the intention to use every last piece of the red fabric.  Itโ€™s always a joy to me to use up scraps by dealing with whatever shapes are presented.  Improvisational piecing puts me right into a flow state and the stresses of everyday living recede.  Itโ€™s always a happy surprise to see what comes about in the end. 

2017 Every Last Piece in progress (4).JPG
2017 Every Last Piece (2).JPG
2017 Every Last Piece (5).JPG
2017 Every Last Piece (15).JPG
2017 Every Last Piece (19).JPG

Arches and Tunnels

Arches and Tunnels

Arches and Tunnels

I mentioned a while back that I entered 3 quilts into QuiltCon this year.  That's fewer entries than I have done in the past, partly because I didn't make as many modern quilts last year and also because the fee to submit went up substantially.  Anyway, when the notices came out in December I was in the midst of all the holiday stuff and never mentioned anywhere which quilts, if any, got into the show.  So, this is the first of a series of three blog posts about the quilts I entered.  Right off the bat, I'll tell you that 2 of the 3 got in and they were the two I suspected had the best chance.  So, without further ado, here is Arches and Tunnels which has already safely arrived at QuiltCon headquarters. 

Arches and Tunnels is a hand applique project I started over 2 years ago.  The photo below shows one of the many configurations I tried at that time.  This was at our old house and just a few months before we decided to move.  During the move this project was put away and forgotten about for a couple of years.  You can see more about it in a blog post I wrote last September.

As you can see I did get it professionally machine quilted by long arm quilter Julia Jeans.  I gave her completely free reign and was excited to see what she'd come up with.  It's a quite eclectic mix of pattern and shape.  It will be very interesting to see what people at QuiltCon have to say about it.  Although I intended for this quilt to be large enough for the Applique category, it actually measures 35" x 37", so I think it will be in Small Quilts.  Stay tuned for the other two quilts coming up soon!

2017 Arches and Tunnels Detail.JPG
2017 Arches and Tunnels Final (6).JPG
2017 Arches and Tunnels Final (7).JPG

Novel Idea Quilts 2011 to 2018

2011 Imagine (Kapitoil by Teddy Wayne)

2011 Imagine (Kapitoil by Teddy Wayne)

Every now and then I get a really good idea when I'm in the hot tub late at night.  Sometimes the ideas are really quite harebrained, but I do a lot of thinking in there.  Last night I got the idea to do a Novel Idea quilt post so I hope you think this is a good idea too!  Each quilt is labeled with the title of the quilt and the title and author of the book.

I've included all the Novel Idea quilts I've made over the past 8 years and a couple of extras.  Imagine (above) was the first.  It is completely hand stitched using cloth weaving and embroidery techniques learned from Jude Hill. 

The Novel Idea program with the Deschutes Public Library is a community read program.  The book is usually announced in December and we have about 4 months to read the book (less if you are going to be creating art, of course) and then there is a month of group activities offered by the library which culminates in the author visiting town to do a lecture.  As a life-long reader and lover of books, this has always been one of my favorite things about our library.  I was thrilled when Marilyn Forestell (also a book lover and owner of QuiltWorks) suggested starting the Novel Idea Quilt club which gets together just for the purpose of creating quilts and textile art for this program.  Often the author has been able to visit the quilt gallery to see the exhibit and they've always been so thrilled to see it.  That first year Teddy Wayne was able to see the quilts and I was there.  It was so great to be able to meet the author and discuss how I was inspired to create this quilt.

2011 Tea is No Minor Beverage (The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery)

2011 Tea is No Minor Beverage (The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery)

Tea is No Minor Beverage is not actually a Novel Idea quilt, but it's here for a reason.  During that first year everyone was so fired up about making book quilts we decided to do a second project that year and we chose The Elegance of the Hedgehog.  I didn't realize until doing this blog post that I've done a tea cup before!  After this one extra book we went to just doing the Novel Idea quilt each year.  It was never a cohesive group to begin with and many of us are now in other small groups which make book quilts.  Mine is The Undercover Quilters which I've mentioned many times before.  

2012 Autumn in New York (Rules of Civility by Amor Towles)

2012 Autumn in New York (Rules of Civility by Amor Towles)

The third year we read Rules of Civility which was a favorite with many.  One of the things I love about book clubs of any sort is that I am introduced to books and authors I don't know about.  I became a fan of Towles with this book.  His more recent novel, A Gentleman in Moscow, is one of my favorite books ever.  

You may have noticed that this piece is made with silks.  Also, many of these are hand stitched.  One thing about the Novel Idea quilts is that there are no size restrictions.  When creating for most quilt shows, your work must meet a minimum size.  When I'm doing hand stitched art pieces I prefer to work small, so I love that I can work with any size that works for me.  There also also many hand dyed fabrics in these pieces.  I tend to use my most favorite pieces of fabric for these small gems.

2013 The Spirit of the Wood (The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey)

2013 The Spirit of the Wood (The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey)

Of all the books we've done for the Novel Idea Quilts, I think The Snow Child was the most loved by the quilters.  It's such a visual book with themes that appealed to many.  I had so much fun with this piece.  I used hand dyes and vintage linens and it's all hand stitched.  I did get to meet the author, but it was at the book signing rather than the gallery.  She did see the quilts and was very touched by the whole exhibit.

2014 Longing for Connection (The Dog Stars by Peter Heller)

2014 Longing for Connection (The Dog Stars by Peter Heller)

If you haven't read The Dog Stars, it's a novel about a post-apocalyptic future.  Many people I know in town as well as many quilters were put off by the theme, but I actually really loved this book.  There were some lovely moments including a passage which included a poem by Kim Stafford, one of Oregon's past Poet Laureates.  This quilt, which is quite small, was inspired by that poem within the book.  I was able to meet the author at the book signing and to tell him about my quilt.  He saw the exhibit and was so inspired he asked if any of the pieces were for sale.  In the end he bought several of them including mine.  What an honor!

2015 The Wayward Jungle Crow (A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki)

2015 The Wayward Jungle Crow (A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki)

A Tale for the Time Being was such an interesting book.  The author talk was also fascinating.  Like I said in the previous post I am always on the lookout for nature themes, wildlife and especially birds when I read a book for a quilt.  This one did not disappoint with a Jungle Crow that keeps returning to visit one of the main characters.  This one is machine pieced, hand appliqued, and hand embroidered using many hand dyed fabrics and some vintage linens.

2016 Spirit Tree (Euphoria by Lily King)

2016 Spirit Tree (Euphoria by Lily King)

In 2015 my sister, glass artist Cheryl Chapman, moved to town.  She also loves books and is a quilter so I thought I'd better get her involved in the Novel Idea quilts.  We both made quilts for the exhibit, mine is above.  I was inspired by the cover of the book and also a passage about the rainbow gum trees.  In addition to that Marilyn had an idea for folks to make masks as part of the exhibit.  It was a theme that related to the book and many people did so.  Cheryl came up with the idea of making glass masks.  We had so much fun getting together to do this.  We created the glass forms in her workshop and she fired them.  Then we had a day in my studio creating the fabric additions for the top of the masks.  

2016 Fused Glass Masks (Euphoria by Lily King) Cheryl Chapman on the left, me on the right.

2016 Fused Glass Masks (Euphoria by Lily King) Cheryl Chapman on the left, me on the right.

2017 The H Quilt (Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi)

2017 The H Quilt (Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi)

Last year the book was Homegoing which had a multitude of characters, time frames and locations.  In end I decided to put this quilt in the exhibit even though it wasn't made just for the book.  I had actually finished it a couple of months before with no other inspiration than seeing an old H quilt and thinking it would be cool to try it in an improv manner.  Plus, my maiden name starts with H.  As it happens, one of the main characters in the book was called, simply, H.  How coincidental is that?

You can read yesterday's post to find out about Ranjana's Chai (below).  If you haven't made a book quilt yet I highly suggest it as a jumping off point.  My rule with them has always been that my quilts are inspired by the book.  They are not necessarily illustrations of the book.  You can take a feeling, phrase, sentence, word, color scheme, character, animal or object for your inspiration.  It is really fun though and maybe you'll even meet the author some day!  I have done 19 book quilts so far (wow!) and am making plans for my 20th for the Undercover Quilters.  This year our book choice is Martin Marten by Brian Doyle.  I can't wait!

2018 Ranjana's Chai (No One Can Pronounce My Name by Rakesh Satyal)

2018 Ranjana's Chai (No One Can Pronounce My Name by Rakesh Satyal)

10 Days in January

Ranjana's Chai, 26" x 17"

Ranjana's Chai, 26" x 17"

31451194.jpg

This Year's Novel Idea book is No One Can Pronounce My Name by Rakesh Stayal.  While I was reading the book I had a hard time coming up with any quilt ideas for the QuiltWorks Novel Idea Challenge.  This year is the 15th year for the Novel Idea program at our local library, and it's the 8th year that QuiltWorks has done a special gallery show for Novel idea quilts and other artworks. I've done it every year and I didn't want to mess up my streak!  I like the book quite a bit, but have to admit to being a bit disappointed that there was barely any mention of nature and no birds that I can recall, my favorite subjects for representational art.  I did eventually find a passage that inspired me: 

"She had taken down a large assortment of cups and saucers, and a shiny silver serving pot presided over them like a proud parent.  Fancy, loose tea leaves, and containers of cardamom and ginger were at the ready.  The kitchen was made beautiful with their smell.  She was going to make true Punjabi tea." 

I decided to dig into my stash of silks for this project.  The silks reminded me of Indian sari silks and silk ties as evidenced by the cover (one of the main characters works in a men's accessories department).  My silk stash includes various types and weights of silks including silk ties and silks of unknown origin.  I first set out to sort the bunch and determine which colors to use.

Sorting the Silks (1).JPG
Sorting the Silks (3).JPG
Sorting the Silks (2).JPG
Sorting the Silks (4).JPG

I decided to use a very warm color palette, perhaps influenced by the book cover.  Since I don't work with silks very often and I decided this piece would be machine appliqued, I started a sample piece to try out my techniques before doing the real project.  Below, you can see "It's Teatime!", the 12" x 12" sample the I ended up finishing as well.  The sample will be displayed with the finished piece above in the gallery show.  I learned a few things about the silks I wanted to use and how to finish the edges.  I had never done satin stitch applique edges so I had to try that and I also wanted to get a somewhat sketchy look to the design, so I played with the free motion lines in a dark gray.  After finishing this I was able to move on to the larger project.

It's Teatime in Progress (1).JPG
It's Teatime! 12" x 12"

It's Teatime! 12" x 12"

Let's also back up just a bit to that teapot shape.  I knew I wanted to do something somewhat authentic, so I did a google search for Indian tea pots and was astounded to find these vintage Indian teapot designs.  These pieces are so lovely and complex and even though I didn't try to duplicate anything like this, I did use them as inspiration for the shape of the teapot. 

Indian Teapot Designs (1).JPG
Indian Teapot Designs (3).JPG
Indian Teapot Designs (5).JPG
Indian Teapot Designs (9).JPG
Indian Teapot Designs (12).JPG
Indian Teapot Designs (13).JPG

Once I was ready to create the large piece I used Mistyfuse to attach a couple of larger pieces of silk to a backing of harem cloth.  Harem cloth is a gauzy cotton fabric, very lightweight, that I've used for hand stitching projects that need a little stability.  It works well with the silks to add the stability, but little weight or thickness.  Then I took patches of various colors and patterns of silk and used Mistyfuse to attach them as a background that would sort of bring to mind a patchwork table cloth.  I did a straight stitch along the edges to keep them in place while I attached the objects.  

Ranjana's Chai in Progress (2).JPG
Ranjana's Chai in Progress (3).JPG

I sketched out various styles of tea cups on cardstock to use as my patterns.  For these I used Wonder Under to attach them to the background.  Wonder Under is easier to use than Mistyfuse because it has a paper backing, but I really don't like the stiffness it adds.  I would probably stick to Mistyfuse for future projects like this.  

Ranjana's Chai in Progress (4).JPG
Ranjana's Chai in Progress (8).JPG

I figured out how to use the satin stitch on my machine, then I machine quilted around the objects and created the lines in the background with free motion quilting.  To add details to the objects I used free motion quilting in dark gray or a matching color.  I also did the sketchy dark gray lines to go around the edges of all the objects.  When I do that I go around at least 2 times, sometimes three or four times if I need to restate a line.  To make the words for the containers I used free motion stitching on a piece of silk that was fused to another piece of harem cloth.  This made it stable enough to stitch on.  I practiced the words on some muslin and then just went for it.  My main concern was to get the words sized right for the containers.

Ranjana's Chai in Progress (7).JPG
Ranjana's Chai in Progress (5).JPG

I then added some more fusible to the back of the words and cut them out to add them to the containers.  I added some more stitching around them for character.  All the photos below are of the finished piece, with binding, label and sleeve attached.  I did the binding with a lightweight shot cotton because I didn't know if the silks I have would be sturdy enough.  I really like how this came out and have more ideas for future projects.

2018 Ranjana's Chai Final (7).JPG
2018 Ranjana's Chai Final (2).JPG
2018 Ranjana's Chai Final (3).JPG
2018 Ranjana's Chai Final (4).JPG
2018 Ranjana's Chai Final (5).JPG
2018 Ranjana's Chai Final (6).JPG
2018 Ranjana's Chai Final (8).JPG

One last thing before I go, you'll notice I put a bird on it!  As I said before I was disappointed to not find a mention of a bird in the book, but when I saw the phrase "assortment of cups and saucers" I immediately thought of adding a bird to one of the teacups.  I then added the pink flowers and also decorated the teapot similarly for balance.  You'll also see my machine stitched signature in the last photo.  I don't do it on every project, but I probably should.  The Novel Idea quilt exhibit will be displayed at QuiltWorks in Bend, Oregon for the month of April.  The reception is on April 6, 5-7 pm.  

2018 Ranjana's Chai Final (10).JPG
2018 Ranjana's Chai Final (23).JPG