Monday 1 May 2017

Four in Art

Second Quarter Theme: Light in the Darkness

There were so many options with this theme and sub theme. I chose the sub theme this time around, so I guess ideas had been bubbling away for a while; however ideas are one thing and realisation is quite another and the deadline seemed to come around extra quick!

I decided for this one to play with the idea of lighting from within and without. This piece is supposed to represent a high rise building, reflecting the setting sun and the skyline of shadowy more distant buildings and then having some floors of the building lit from within as people labour away.

The quilting is supposed to show the individual windows and the two tone different reflection and dimensions of the building as the light bends.

As I built the piece from the top down I was quite liking the effect of the colour variations in the green yellow and ochre striped section and will store that idea away for another quilt I think.
I used lots of shot cottons for the shimmer and it may be hard to tell from the photos but I put sections different ways round to hopefully enhance that effect. I had quite a few large scraps which I was able to use, which was satisfying.

It was extraordinarily hard to keep the grid straight. I sewed one way and then the other top to bottom and bottom to top and similarly left to right/ right left but it still seemed to pull the stripes a little, but I told myself that light can bend on glass in a similar way...?

I debated about the green section in the top third because I made it intentionally curved up at the right hand end as part of a curved reflection and nearly unpicked it and think I perhaps should have, but it's all part of the learning process.

I bound it skinnily (if that's a word) with a tiny squared fabric, also used in the piece and the whole measures approximately 15 x 24" or 39 x 60.5cm

I'm super keen to see how the other group members have interpreted the theme and you can do that at our group blog here, where you'll also find links to people's individual blogs with more information about each piece.

Wednesday 1 February 2017

Four in Art: Light- Shimmer

With the New Year we have a new theme for our Four in Art group.
The theme for the year is Light, which provides a host of exciting possibilities. The sub theme that Catherine has selected for this first quarter is Shimmer.

I have been lucky to have been out in my kayak a bit over the last quarter. In November last year, just after the theme was announced, I had a great trip with my Dad and (then) 17 year old son on Lake Monowai over in Fiordland in the deep south of NZ. Only about three hours drive from home, but a world away too.

We had some pretty strong winds when we set out, and there wasn't much shimmer on the surface of the water- more white horses and we were mostly concentrating on not going backwards! And there are no photos of that as we were far too busy keeping going forwards to record the effect of wind on water!  But on setting out from the hut the next day it was calm again and over the next couple of days we had plenty of opportunity to enjoy the patterns on the surface of the water and I was thinking that it really fitted my personal definition of shimmer. But had to look it up when I got home to be sure. The definition I found is:

a subdued, tremulous light or gleam. 4. a quivering or vibrating motion or image as produced by reflecting faint light or heat waves. 

This effect is really pronounced on water. It was the effect on calm water that I really hoped to capture.

 The colours and patterns vary depending on light and reflections

Those loopy patterns of dark and light shown here on the right hand side of the image are particularly captivating in the shimmer department I feel.

But how to do it? In the back of my mind I think, was the work of Pauline Burbridge who has experimented with shimmering on water, much more articulately than me, but hey you've got to start somewhere!

So I projected a photo on to the wall and because I can't really draw to save myself, I traced  that to cut shapes out of freezer paper that I then ironed onto shot cottons in four shades and fused and layered them onto a background.

Always nerve wracking to begin to add stitching when I'm fairly happy with the progress so far! And the raw edges are a challenge...

The piece measures 42 x 26cm or 16.5 x 10.25 inches and I faced it to finish.

Nowhere near as pretty as the real thing, but I'm happy to have had a go at capturing it.

Next quarter the sub theme, which I've selected this time, is Light in the Darkness which should give everyone plenty of scope. That's due to be finished on the 1st May.

In the meantime check out how everyone else has interpreted the theme at their individual blogs and/or the Four in Art blog

Betty at a Flickr site 
Catherine  at Knotted Cotton
Elizabeth at
Janine at Rainbowhare
Nancy at  Patchwork Breeze
Rachel at The Life of Riley
Simone at Quiltalicious
Susan at PatchworknPlay

Tuesday 1 November 2016

Four in Art- Rising Above the Blues

This final quarter in our Colour theme for our Four in Art group this year, the sub theme was "I've got the Blues" I guess this could be interpreted in a musical way or in the direction I have chosen, which springs more naturally to mind for me, working as I do in the Mental Health field. I've called my interpretation Rising Above the Blues.

Also it seems I had a few blues left in my stash of fabrics...

I wanted to let the blues sink down to have the lighter shades rise to the top; the nesting tessellating blues subtly meshing and becoming distinct, which alludes to the thoughts and feelings that structure our moods, blue or otherwise.

Initially I was going to quilt it using an orange peel design but decided in the end to have the quilting denser at the bottom with the darker colours, lightening with the mood and colour and thinning out to give the idea of a more settled calmer mood with wavy organic lines. The bottom rows have six rows of quilting each, gradually decreasing to just one in the top row

The binding is a Carolyn Friedlander cross hatched charcoal and for the back I used good old Ikea Nummer print. After washing the texture really is highlighted.

Is it really an "art quilt" I ask myself? What is an art quilt anyway? Maybe a quilted something trying to convey an idea is sufficient?

I have been particularly busy at work this quarter so I'm glad I started early and did manage to finish in time, but the photos certainly leave something to be desired; so I shall update these in the very near future (not in the dark tonight!) to provide a better idea of this quilt.

Be sure to check out the other interpretations of this theme over at The Four in Art blog, publishing sometime on 1 November (depending on time zone) and on each of our individual blogs:

Betty at a Flickr site 
Catherine  at Knotted Cotton
Elizabeth at
Janine at Rainbowhare
Nancy at  Patchwork Breeze
Rachel at The Life of Riley
Simone at Quiltalicious
Susan at PatchworknPlay
Camilla at Faffling

Monday 1 August 2016

Four in Art- Third Quarter- Purple Passion

Father and Son

This theme really had me stumped for a while! Purple really isn't my colour, but then I realised that I've used it quite extensively in each of the previous two Four in Art projects. It's not a colour I choose to wear or have around much in my home, but maybe I have a secret hankering if I've voluntarily chosen to use it in those other projects?!

My first thoughts were to do a zoomed in Passion Fruit similar to this clip art image I found, which I thought I could have fun with, practicing my paper piecing! But after drawing up something I got a bit daunted and as well, decided it was too literal an image for the theme.

The other idea that had sprung immediately to mind was something ecclesiastically purple, to do with Passiontide. The particular shade of purple for this season in the church calendar is the one I think of when I think of purple. This is often synonymous with Holy Week and represents Easter and Jesus' death and resurrection, particularly as celebrated in Anglican  and Catholic churches.
I wanted to do a pared down ecclesiastical cross with linen; which would also have symbolic importance at Easter, as Jesus' body was wrapped in linen cloths, as he was as a newborn, according to the Gospels.

I love the look of a natural linen and the way it tones down and complements purple which is naturally more "shouty". These shot cotton purples are rich and subtly textured. (Albeit hard to photograph!)


I'm not sure which orientation it should have, perhaps I should add two hanging sleeves so I can switch according to whim?


This one almost captures the iridescence of the shot cotton.

It looks quite monastic in this stairwell archway.

 A bit different again with my daughter's mobile creation.

The simple design form holds meaning if you want to see that aspect, but if that isn't significant to the viewer, I like that the form is pleasingly pared down and simple. The two forms are related but distinct, rather like Father and Son. I considered adding a third trinitarian cross, but this looked too blatantly symbolic for me and I liked the balance of the two halves.

I quilted each cross complementarily rather than identically and finished with a simple linen facing and I'm thinking that perhaps I'll block it before I add the hanging sleeve(s)? I've never blocked anything before and don't mind the slightly softened edges but think it might benefit from a little more shaping?

This quarter I'm happier with the result and pleased that I started super early though apart from unpicking some quilting I wasn't happy with on one of the blocks, I didn't have any major revisions to do. 

The size measures 18x37.5cm or approx 7"x15" and uses linen and cotton with cotton/bamboo batting.

Do check out all the other entries for our group at Four in Art from 1st August (according to the time somewhere in the US!)

Or check out everyone's blogs here:

Monday 2 May 2016

Four in Art- Second Quarter

Time for the second quarter reveal for the Four in Art group. This quarter's theme was Colour: Music, an easy theme I thought... I had an idea right away but in the end I really struggled to bring it to life.

As soon as the theme was revealed, I thought of a quote I had heard years ago, about how the colour purple might be described to a blind person as the deep notes of a trumpet. I searched for the quote and couldn't find it but the image was quite visual to me, with purple sound waves emanating from a trumpet in profile. (I had a hard time getting the colour to show up as the purple it is so you'll have to take my word for that. After weeks of sunshine today is grey and dark so hard to photograph true colours).

I made three different attempts to realise my idea and am still not at all happy with the result. In fact I'm feeling quite embarrassed having to publish my effort... but the idea of the group, for me at least, is to stretch my creative muscles in making something to a theme within a timeframe and to try to identify what makes something work or not. So I'm trying to hold it lightly as a learning experience. Maybe you can help me identify what would have made it work?

I like my profile trumpet which I cut out and fused to the background. I like the idea of the sound waves, but they're not quite right. I tried ribbon on another one and I've tried different colours and shapes. Perhaps the wave form is not right across the space? I quite like how they're fading out, but maybe the zigzag needed to be denser?

Or they needed to be altogether fatter? Or the waves all needed to match and echo one another?  I tried different waveforms but couldn't decide what worked. Perhaps the problem is with the negative space? Definitely the quilting is a problem. My initial idea was to echo quilt the waves and I tried more colour with lines in a lightly variegated purple thread- lots of unpicking after that...

In the end I ran out of time- there's learning in that; but don't seem to have had much success on trying to start earlier- spent plenty of time reading this and this and now I'm all sorted!

My daughter has it worked out, she said sometimes creative projects just don't work and you probably should just scrap it and try a new idea- yeah- that one! But I would actually be interested to read your comments as to what would have improved this one, coz I feel like success must be in there somewhere trying to get out.

You can see how the others in our group interpreted the theme; we have a blog, Four-in-Art Quilts, but you can also visit the rest of us here:


Tuesday 16 February 2016

I won!

I'm a winner in many ways (in the sense of being very fortunate), but just not in competitions, raffles or draws. Usually!

Here I am the lucky recipient of an exception- an exceptional book  from Melissa Wastney in fact, which came with little personal touches of a card and little handmade envelopes. Melissa is also a fellow NZer and the book has a subtle NZ flavour which is lovely to come across.

The book includes 25 projects to create clothing and handmade items for children. Sadly my own children are too big for this now but I look forward to trying some out as gifts for little ones I know and there's a lovely bag which I have some fabric in mind for already. All the instructions and even pattern pieces are in the book.

Melissa has a lovely creative blog called Tiny Happy that somehow transmits calm creativity and a delightfully mindful pace of life.

Monday 1 February 2016

Four in Art- Microscopic Colour

There's nothing like a deadline for getting going on a project! I'm lucky enough to be part of an online group called Four in Art where we challenge ourselves to come up with a quilted something to fit a given theme four times a year. This year's theme is Colour and this quarter it's Microscopic Colour. I found it a pretty inspiring theme and had several ideas which I could have followed up on. Whether they would have worked is another thing, but nice to feel inspired to begin with!

I remembered seeing these brightly coloured images of microscopic algae, but I didn't remember they were called Diatoms. An image web search of "microscopic colour" quickly located and named them for me. Apparently the Victorians had a thing for photographing them and arranging them in patterns, often in circular forms.

Diatoms are widely varying in form, but almost always show bilateral symmetry so I thought I could use patterned features of fabric from my scraps and cut them out and fuse them onto a background.
I have done almost no appliqué and have always shied away from fiddly edges, so wasn't sure how this would go. I decided to raw edge appliqué them, hoping that the stitching would represent the silica cell wall that is a defining feature of diatoms. I think I could have made more of this perhaps with a denser stitch. To be honest I was a bit scared of ruining it. If I'd had more time I could have experimented with that step a bit more.

I decided to do free motion echo quilting around the shapes in black thread. I thought about using monofilament for a bit of shine, but ended up deciding on the plain black.

To finish I used a facing (tutorial here) rather than a binding as I though the binding would provide a too dominant defined edge on such a small piece. It finishes as 12" square.

One slight issue which I hadn't anticipated, is that I used cotton bamboo batting which I had on hand, but it has bearded very slightly. I was trying to remove the dust/lint and on close inspection realised that the quilting process has actually pulled very tiny threads of batting up to the top of the piece. I haven't struck this before, perhaps I'm just noticing this because of the dark background. I'd be interested to know if others have had this issue before and what to do about it?

Can't wait to see how others have been inspired by the theme. You can check them all out here on the Four in Art blog from 6am Monday 1st Feb US EST. Being in NZ I think I have a slight head-start.
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