Saturday, August 6, 2011

Hand Stitching Threads for the Commission

Tonight I selected the cotton embroidery floss that I will use to do the hand stitching on the commission piece.

I love thread and seek out new colors wherever I can find it. I particularly like variegated threads that do not change much in value (dark to light). They used to be easier to find, but like so many supplies for hand work, they are getting more difficult to locate easily.

I will use some or all of these colors for adding details to areas I want to emphasize. Some will be used to move color around the surface to integrate the design.

Tomorrow I begin stitching. It will take several days to complete this step.


Thursday, August 4, 2011

Machine Quilting of Commission Completed

Finished the hand guided machine quilting of the commission piece for CMC Mercy Hospital today. That is always a day to celebrate.

This first photograph shows the echo quilting around stems and a leaf. It is reminiscent of the echo quilting used by traditional Hawaiian quilters. Only their quilting is done by hand and a line of quilting is stitched one finger width apart from the previous line.

I like the texture and rhythms that are set up by the machine quilting and I like to make my quilt lines about 1/8 to a 1/4 inch apart from each other.

The next photo is of the berry and some of the background quilting. The quilting also adds a level of detail to the piece without introducing more complexity to the design.

The final photograph is of the back of the piece and shows the berry and some leaves from the back. The quilting shows up well on this plain fabric. I pull each thread to the back of the quilt and tie it off with a double knot.

As I was knotting and cutting the threads, I thought of surgeons who have been the most usual sewers among men. I wondered, with the staples that are now used, are the surgeons still sewing sutures as a part of surgery?

Next comes the hand stitching. That is one of my favorite parts of the process. It is like the icing on the cake.


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Background Quilting of Commission Piece Underway

The hand guided machine quilting of the background really makes the motifs stand out. I begin in the smaller areas that are in the center of the piece. With every change of direction, I have to move the entire quilt. Small areas require a lot of moving in comparison to the number of stitches.

This part of the construction process goes somewhat slowly, but with each finished area, the piece is better revealed as what it will be.

This photo shows one of the challenges that I had with the colors in the piece. There are a lot of overlapping leaves in the design. I needed to make sure that it is clear which leaves are in front and which leaves are further back.

I used several different techniques to convey depth in the artwork. One technique is overlapping the edges of the motifs. Another more subtle but really important technique is the use of warmth and coolness of colors. Greens that are more yellow will seem in front of greens that are more blue. Shadows also help clarify images. Shadows are visible in the stem and in the lower leaf.


Monday, August 1, 2011

Book Review for Point, Click, Quilt!

Susan Brubaker Knapp has written a book that is a feast for the eyes and provides 16 projects that will develop skills for the quilt artist. The book is well organized with some basic art element information at the beginning and some simple but meaningful exercises to develop ones' eye for what will make a good photograph. She even has suggestions for how to store photographs for later inspiration.

Following the introductory chapters, Brubaker Knapp gives patterns and detailed instructions on using her techniques in acrylic painting and thread painting to reproduce the 16 projects. Throughout the book are her wonderful photos and details of her quilts. Eye candy at its best.

Susan's background in journalism and graphic arts prior to being a full-time professional quilt artist is apparent in the well written book and her designs. The book is a delight to read- fresh, breezy, and substantial at the same time. No mean feat!

There is a nine page gallery in the back of book of work by other artists who use photographs to produce their artwork. For each of these quilts, the photograph that inspired the work is also given. Some produce works that are copies of the photos, others make major changes.

I would recommend this book to anyone who loves photography, beginners and intermediate skilled art quilters, and those who want to increase their composition skills.

In full disclosure, Susan is a friend, and one of my quilts is in the gallery.