About eighteen months ago I discovered LINQS, a group of 5 ladies who had thrown down a challenge to anyone residing in Lincolnshire to create art quilts influenced, in any way at all, by the work of the great British artist David Hockney. Joining this group proved to be a great move for me as I’ve made so many good friends, all with a common interest, and learnt such a lot from being in their company.
Researching Hockney’s work was an eye opener. Before visiting the Hockney Gallery at Salts Mill the only paintings of his that I was familiar with were the “poolside” ones. At the Hockney gallery in Saltaire, Lancashire I found myself drawn to his landscape paintings, in particular his depiction of trees. Some of his work I really liked while other pieces I strongly disliked but the time spent researching his work led me to developing a fascination of my own for trees and woodlands, particularly tree skeletons stripped bare of their leaves in Winter. Influenced by what I had seen I began photographing trees wherever I went and my Three Tall Trees 30” x 40” quilt is based on a photograph I took while out walking in the woods at Woodhall Spa.
Once I had worked out my design on paper I set to preparing my fabric for colouring with Procian dye by soaking it in a solution of soda. Unfortunately I think I must have used too much soda. Although I covered it before ironing I still managed to burn the entire area of fabric above the tree tops! My nice crisp, white sky was ruined and my heart sank at the thought of having to start all over again! I set the fabric to one side, put the kettle on and broke out the cake……feeling happier now I decided, rather than start again, to cut out the woodland, back it with Vilene and make a huge piece of appliqué. Not only did I save myself time and fabric but this also turned out to be a blessing in disguise as it was so much easier to handle under the machine than the whole cloth would have been!
Layers of organza and netting were used to create shading and depth for the forest and then the background trees were stitched by machine using various coloured threads. I made a test piece first using free machine embroidery but it wasn’t giving the sharp edged look I wanted so I swapped to using the walking foot instead.
The textured woodland floor was created with painted muslin, organza and hand stitching. Vilene has become one of my favourite materials to work with as it won’t fray and can be cut, painted and sewn so easily, I found it was ideal for making the foreground trees which I painted using Inktense blocks and then added some detail with Inktense crayons, blending the colour with water. Once the the finer tree branches had all been hand sewn the three tall trees were tacked in position.
The final stage was to add a backing and then machine sew through all the layers to quilt the three trees in place. I figured I didn’t have to do too much more quilting with the backing on as I had done plenty of sewing through the various layers as the piece had progressed. As far as I was concerned it was already “quilted” but I made sure that it had enough quilting across the work to hold the back in place. It’s now finished and will be going on tour nationally, with the rest of the LINQS “Inspired by Hockney” quilts, starting with the Springfields Quilt Show in Spalding on June 3rd
Many thanks to Karen for writing this post for us.
Mary Stori is a new forum member, but has extensive experience in quiltmaking and fiber art. She introduced herself to us in January as “‘ a wanna be felter living outside of Asheville, NC. For the past 25+ years I’ve traveled the national and international quilting circuit as an author, lecturer, workshop leader, cruise host…..bla, bla, bla. The focus of my work began with wearable art, fine hand quilting, whimsical and highly embellished quilts.”
She attended a class with Chad Alice Hagen a few years ago and is now “hooked.” Her focus went from quilts to felt. But one thing hasn’t changed — her love of embellishments, particularly beading which she has authored several books on. So, with her permission I have put together some of her tips from her blog on beading.
I’m often asked how I organize my beads……this method works well for me.
First of all……you won’t use them if you can’t find them, so take the time to gather them from all your hiding places, organize them, and then put them in a convenient place…no matter how many or few you have.
A location away from sunlight, heat, and excess moisture is best.
Because there are no closets in my studio, my teaching materials are stored in a large walk in closet in a guest room nearby. The bulk of my workshops in recent years have focused on beading techniques or projects that incorporate beads. Therefore, I purchase a LOT of beads in bulk from a distributor for my classes. They generally come as strung kilos, which I repackage into kits and store in boxes and plastic bins.
Above is my own personal stash…… One entire side of the closet is fitted from floor to ceiling with shelves…and almost all are used to store my embellishments. I could consolidate them if the space was needed for other things, but as it is now, I’m easily able to walk in and quickly find what I’m looking for without having to dig through dozens of items stacked on top of each other.
I like to use plastic fishing tackle boxes, or embroidery floss containers. Beads are stored by style and color in see-thru plastic tubes or small bags. Here you see some seed beads.
Besides using beads, I utilize many other embellishments, trinkets, charms, buttons, found objects into my work. This unit has plastic pull out containers with large divided sections which are more suitable for these items. It too goes on my shelves in the closet.
If tubes or small bags aren’t handy for you….try storing beads in small containers such as film canisters, pill bottles, or metal breath mint cases. If you glue a bead to the lid….you’ll always be able to quickly know what’s inside!
Another big key to beading……is making your environment comfortable during the task. A table top or floor model Ott light will save on eye strain. As will a pair of ‘cheater glasses’. I always tell my students that one of the biggest secrets to successful beading is ‘spacing’….and the ability to see the bead and to judge the placement of the needle into the fabric is vital.
Many people are unaware that beads may not necessarily be colorfast. For instance, this beautiful blue bugle bead below may appear as if it’s blue glass. Not so……it’s clear glass that has been dyed or painted blue. Often the color remains secure on the bead, other times not. So…..if you think there’s a possibility that your project will be washed, become damp, or even require high steam for pressing…..take a few minutes and test your beads for colorfastness.
Most of the time, there isn’t a problem, but for that heirloom project….you’d be devastated if during a final steam pressing, the bead color ran into your fabric. The pricier beads may be just at risk as the less expensive ones…..you can’t tell by looking.
Here’s how to test:
– Fill a shallow dish with hot sudsy water….drop in a few beads….let it sit for 15 mins.
– Remove them…rinse and let dry on a paper towel.
Note….sometimes color will be visible in the water, other times….the color will slowly eek out as it dries. As you can see….this blue bead has run…..red is another color I check carefully.
Don’t let this scare you…….we are all aware that colorfastness can be an issue with fabrics……now you know that beads carry the same risk. Even if the bead color doesn’t run….sometimes the fancy coatings……that make a bead’s surface shimmer with various affects, (like rainbow) can dissipate……and the bead will lose its luster.
I’ve tested very, very few beads that I decided not to use……or that I’ve used with caution……beading is worth any effort….hopefully with this hint….all your projects will continue to shine brightly!
I’m a stickler for good quality construction…..for me it’s not all about fast, rather…it’s about great design that has been executed to the best of my ability. If precautions aren’t taken, beading can cause fabrics to distort. Therefore, I ALWAYS secure my work in a Q-snap frame. The only exception is when I’m beading the bindings/edges of my quilts.
Q-snap frames are simply PVC tubes which come in a variety of sizes. This one is 11″ x 11″, my choice for smaller projects. The work is attached using clips that snap over the frame. Though you could use a round embroidery hoop…..I don’t because it pulls the fabric diagonally which can stretch the bias. I’ve found it’s best to keep the fabric ON GRAIN by using a square or rectangular frame when beading.
As for felt, unless the felt is super thick and sturdy, I always secure fabric (of any kind) in a Q-snap frame for beading and embroidery. However, I generally avoid using the plastic clips…….instead I attach the material using muslin sleeves or pin the fabric around the frame to avoid damage to the fabric and beads. There’s nothing more unattractive than distorted, stretched out wool!!!
However, as the beading design develops, requiring repositioning of the fabric, I avoid using the clips in places where they could damage the beads. Instead, if the piece is large enough as it is in this sample, I wrap the excess snugly around the frame, and secure the layers together using straight pins or by thread basting. This keeps the fabric on grain, and well stabilized to assure good thread and fabric tension.
My ‘artist’ inspired piece is now in the beading phase…. The piece is attached to an 11″x17″ Q-snap frame…note I used 1 clip at the top, where it didn’t interfere with the beads.
I also want to mention that I’m beading through 2 layers only…..the quilt top which has been stabilized with batting. This approach will hide and protect the threads once the backing is added later.
You can find more information on Mary’s website and blog. She’s also the author of “Beading Basics,” “All-in-One Beading Buddy,” & DVD – “Mary Stori Teaches You Beading on Fabric” & “Embellishing With Felted Wool”
We, Marilyn (Pandagirl) and I (Luvswool), had never attended a “fiber fair,” so there were expectations and then the reality of the Fair. We had planned for many months to attend the annual Fair and met there early Friday morning with great anticipation. The advance program showed photos of sheep, fiber, workshops, art exhibits, bags of fleece, etc., and the Fair delivered all of that except for the sheep. One of the organizers explained to me that August is too hot for sheep, and I guess that makes sense. So, the only live animals were a lonely llama and a couple of angora rabbits. Still, it was an enjoyable experience.
The Fair has been held for 8 years in Grayslake, IL, a far northwestern town in the extended Chicago metro area, and it’s a Fair that celebrates the work of many hands. We saw spinners, felters, and knitters demonstrating their crafts, and there were many workshops offered during the 3-day fair. There were a couple of folk singers and a few food vendors outdoors, but everything else was contained in an air-conditioned building. The majority of the indoor vendors were geared towards knitters, with many beautiful displays of hand-dyed, hand-spun yarns and goods. Neither Marilyn nor I are knitters, so we headed first for a walk around to scope out the lot.
First stop was the Art Exhibit, which displayed fine fiber art–among them, my own display of five fiber wall-hangings. There were other fiber wall hangings, sculptures and “vintage” handbags (crafted from vintage patterns but otherwise entirely new).
(Cathy had a very prominent display! It was the first thing to see on our way in. Very exciting! — Marilyn)
Next up were the vendors, which included some crazy rag rugs, lots of beautiful yarn and bags of alpaca fleece. There were also felted hats and you’ll notice I didn’t snap pics of the roving, since I was busy buying it. Marilyn and I purchased some fibers we have not previously felted with–including Navajo churro, 100% Organic Polwarth, white Falkland and I bought some black Blue Faced Leicester with silk. Since there was so much yarn, I did pick up some white wool boucle for embellishment, as well as silk hankies, which I have never used.
As we neared the end, we were able to view the judging of alpaca and llama fleece. Two judges followed a quality control checklist and had to concur on all points.
Then it was goodbye to Princess Athena, the lonely llama, and our day at the Fair came to an end. We would love to attend another fair, but next time would like to see sheep–sheep-shearing, sheep-judging, sheep fleeces, border collies herding sheep, etc. Maybe there’s a trip to New Zealand in our future!