Sunday, January 31, 2010

Art Quilt Challenge

For our upcoming guild show, there's a challenge to design an original work inspired by a piece in an art museum at a size of 24x28 (+/- 2 inches).  My art quilt group visited the Andy Warhol exhibit at the Milwaukee Art Museum and decided that we'd choose one of Warhol's works as our inspiration.

I decided that I wanted to choose some of his work that probably isn't as well known (i.e. not his pop art).  I liked the oxidation paintings that were included in the exhibit, which Warhol created using metallic paint (which oxidized when urine was applied).  Now I have no plans to use any of the latter substance in my quilting, but I did really like the effect.

Here's an example of one of Warhol's works (Oxidation, 1978, Urine on copper metallic painted canvas):

I wasn't quite sure how to approach this type of work, but the Warhol Museum had a great resource for teachers to use in discussing these particular works of art and the science behind them.  The activity sheet suggested using Modern Masters Copper paint on a canvas and then applying a variety of acids and bases to see how they might react.  I thought this seemed like a reasonable enough place to begin, although I wasn't certain how I might quilt through fabric that had thick paint applied.

Local art supply store Artist & Display unfortunately does not keep the paint in stock and the very helpful salesman was worried that the oxidation process would not stop and that my quilted piece would simply fall apart.  He's still trying to talk to the vendor for me to see if they know of any uses of the paint on regular cotton fabric.  So I had to abandon that avenue for the time being.

One of my art quilt books had some information on gold leafing, and I discovered that Artist & Display sold copper leaf.  I purchased a packet of this and sprayed some lemon juice on it, just to see whether it would have any effect and whether any oxidation might occur.  Unfortunately, the lemon juice dried and one really could not see any effect, although if you did get up really close to the sheet of copper leaf, you could see tiny bits of color change in a few places.  But you'd never notice unless you practically studied it under a microscope.  I was also uncertain how this would look once I'd actually ironed it on to fabric - would the wonder-under or adhesive product eventually show through the copper leaf?  That couldn't possibly be appealing.

So on to another plan.  Could I get some sort of similar effect by bleaching some black fabric, recognizing that you don't know what color might be revealed in the process?  I'd not done any bleaching before, so decided to opt for Soft Scrub with Bleach and a bleach pen as two alternatives.  I wasn't certain how best to apply the bleach, but played around and in the end I don't think this process will work either. Unless I use straight bleach (diluted, of course), I don't really know how I'll get the splatter/spray/random effect I'm looking for.  I was also shocked at how long I had to leave these products on the fabric to achieve much of any effect - close to 5 hours or so, I think. Of course this fabric discharged to a ever lovely brown color.

All but the one on the right were done with Soft Scrub with Bleach; the one at right in the photo was done with the bleach pen.


It also occurred to me that maybe I could get a decent effect by simply dying my own fabric.  About a year ago, I purchased supplies to dye some fabric in the microwave using RIT, based on an article in Quilting Arts magazine.  So I figured, what the heck.  I ended up trying a few different color combinations and while I have some nice fabrics, they're still not quite what I was hoping for.

Here are photos of the fabric I did dye.

Color combo #1 (violets, blues, teals; the third from left is a combo of the two to its left):

Color combo #2 (green and red on either end with a combo in the middle):

Color combo #3 (orange and blue with the combo in the middle):

My art group met last week and Karen suggested that it might be worth an attempt at rusting one or more of the pieces. I think this has promise, but I need to dig up the articles I've seen on rusting to refresh my memory on the process.  And I'm not certain what I'll actually use for the oxidation process.  If I lived closer to my parents, I'm sure there would be all kinds of wonderful things I could steal from the barn.  But I don't really keep around a stash of random metal objects.  I think steel wool might work...

Hopefully all of this experimentation leads somewhere.  I'm running out of time and ideas, however.  And I don't know if I have the energy to resort to a completely different project.  I probably could do something inspired by his Pop Art works, but most others in the group are doing the same, and I'm not sure what every day item I'd want to elevate to quilt status.  Anyone have any brilliant insights into how I might achieve the effect I'm looking for?

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Thistlepod Top in One Piece!

I'm very excited to have completed the piecing of Thistlepod as of Tuesday night!!  It's been a busy week and I've been rather tired, so I've just now found a few minutes to post a photo.  This turned out much better than I anticipated, which I credit to a really good pattern design. The curves went together really well, and while there are a few puckers in the curved piecing, I've not always had such an easy time, depending on the pattern.  Thank you, Judy Niemeyer!

Wasn't Ben a genius in his method for hanging the quilt top for the photo?  He mounted two quilt hangers on either end of a 2x4 and then just held the board in the middle, which was much easier than trying to hold just the top itself (and not having the wingspan)!

I've got backing fabric but need to wash and piece it before it's off to be quilted.  And there's quite a bit of extra fabric from the top; in some cases, a rather ridiculous amount.  They are beautiful fabrics, so I'm not all that upset, I suppose.  I'm thinking an complementary table runner would be nice, it's just a question of finding the right pattern (unfortunately, I have no extra foundations from this project, as they were all preprinted).

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Thistlepod - First Half Together!

I've made some good progress on Thistlepod in the past few days and now have a full half of the quilt together in one piece!  Yay!  I'm so excited, as I really love how this looks and it does seem completely realistic to think that I can have this quilt pieced and quilted in time for our quilt show!  Thanks to Ben for standing on the chair to hold up the top so I could take a photo.  It's pretty large - 96" from top to bottom.

I picked out backing fabric last weekend, so I'm set on that front. Now I'm torn about having it quilted. I'd originally planned to have it custom quilted - for all the work that went into it, an edge-to-edge design seems like taking an easy out!  But then, I'm not really sure what I'd want done custom, other than loads of feathers in those light areas. And I saw another Thistlepod with an edge-to-edge design and it was still gorgeous...  Decisions, decisions!  With everything else going on, it may be another week before I'm able to get the other half together anyways.  I can't wait to see it!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Moda U Blocks of the Month

Saturday was my monthly meeting for Moda U. at Patched Works.  I decided to do the "big quilt" this year because I loved the fabric line the shop is using for it, the Rouenneries line by French General.  Wonderful reds and pinks and taupes and the finished product should look really nice in my living room or hallway.  Here's the luscious fabric line:

I was a month behind in the blocks-of-the month because I was in New Zealand during the November meeting when the fabric kits were distributed, but I was able to get all 8 blocks sewn up prior to the meeting.  I'm really loving how these turn out, and the amazing thing is that the blocks in each column are the same, but can look so different, depending on which fabrics I chose.

I'd kind of forgotten what the finished quilt looks like, so I did some searching online to find it again. You'll see that most of those online showing the pattern - called Green Piece - are made up in a different fabric line and feature loads of applique.  I guarantee you mine will not have that amount of applique.  I'm figuring I will make myself applique the center "medallion" section and call that good enough.  Honestly, I think all that other applique is just a little over the top and a little too busy.

I'm making some good progress on Thistlepod.  Hopefully I'll be able to share a photo and update tomorrow!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Four Patch Shuffle

Amongst all of the holiday preparations and goings on, I had a little bit of time to sew before going to Ohio for Christmas.  I wanted a quick project, something that I could just sit down and sew on without any complications or bother.  I probably should have worked on Thistlepod, but I just wanted to sew, so I grabbed the Four Patch Shuffle quilt kit that I bought a couple of years ago and that I had cut out before November's quilt retreat (but which I had no time to begin then).

It was just what I was looking for: a quick, easy project allowing me to feel like I was making some progress while not adding another UFO to the pile.   I just sewed the borders on this afternoon.

The quilt is approximately 67"x78" and uses the Fresh Air fabric line by Chez Moi.  It'll be a nice complement to the Butter Charm & Jelly Quilt I made a couple of years ago with the same line. The Four Patch Shuffle pattern is a Moda University pattern. 

Hopefully I can find a good backing fabric at the quilt shop this coming Saturday! I'd like to get this baby quilted and off the pile soon!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Visually Representing My Blog...

It had been a while since I'd checked out Wordle, the cool online program for generating "word clouds" from text you provide. The larger the word appears in the cloud, the more frequently it appeared in the source text. I figured I'd throw my blog at it and, lo and behold, guess which words had the most prominence??

Wordle: Quilting Fever

I can't say that I'm at all surprised by the words that are most prominent, but this is a fun little program to play with - you can tweak the colors, font and alignment to suit your tastes. I'm going to print this one and post it near my sewing machine - I especially love how the words "make" and "time" appear next to one another towards the center of the image.

Have fun!!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Happy New Year!

Yes, it's hard to believe that we're already a week into 2010.  While I haven't felt terribly motivated to post of late, I have been getting in some quality quilting time, mainly trying to plow through the Thistlepod quilt in the hopes of having it hanging in my guild's show in March.  We'll see how that goes... I think I'm down to about 10 units left to piece, and a ton of papers to rip off, but I have a Netflix movie and a couple of Mad Men seasons on DVD that I got for Christmas (jury's still out on how I feel about Mad Men).

I did finally quilt two of the three table runners I showed in early November as somewhat belated Christmas gifts.  I'll get to doing the third one for myself sometime in the future...

Here's the first, which I quilted using a grid.

With a close-up:

And the second, which I stippled in the large squares (a good idea in theory, but I broke two needles trying to cross over at the corners, where there is quite a bit of bulk):

And a close-up:

I've been busy with a couple other things too, but I'll save those updates for another day.