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Inspiring Quilting: Elly's blog to boost your creative IQ

Archive for the ‘Surface Design’ Category

All dressed up and somewhere to go…I hope!

Wednesday, February 1st, 2017

Here’s my finished piece, ReUSe/REFuse. 32″ x 48″  Photographed in harsh, side-lit natural light.

Certainly a learning experience. So grateful for all the wonderful advice I got from you blog-commenters: I emphasized the message text as well as I could, repeated the look of its circular shape, sought to add layers of paint to some areas, like posters peeling away, and to keep the color contrast, using pointistic dabs to lead the eye around the piece.

Just in time to enter it in the Mancuso Tri-State Quilt Show (March), and in the much more selective SAQA Textile Posters show…Here’s hoping it will be chosen by either or both, and have someplace to be seen in the flesh, er…cloth, er… mixed media of the trash kind.

Another photo, this time with indirect sunlight. Doesn’t show up the bubbling, but hies to the evenly-lit image requirements–all this amateur photog can handle with her little automatic Canon Powershot, no photo studios, reflective umbrellas, etc. etc. I’m always jammed right up to the entry deadlines, story of my life, so no time (or money) to hire a pro to shoot my piece.

Overdressing!

Saturday, January 28th, 2017

If you’ve read my last two blog posts, you’ll know that I’ve been working on a textile poster, pieced and appliqued out of trash–used packaging. A lot of the assembly came about in flip-and-stitch sections, with quilting to flatten everything down onto felt, then onto a backing.

The problems I saw were a jumble of clutter and a lack of cohesiveness. Many thanks to everyone who left a comment with a suggestion. I considered every single one. And I was determined to move on to address the problem, to redress and resolve those issues, and others brought to my attention, with paint.

 

 

 

Paint day 1–Brushwork, dabbing, sponging, dotting the fuchsia matchsticks—! or i?, adding a soft color to the f in RefUSe:

Better. But still, not half as cohesive as I’d like. On to Paint Day 2, now armed with my favorite paint tool, the Gelli Gel Plate–for mono-printing, and a few high quality tubes of acrylic. Continued to daub, sponge, and brush.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Getting there, now, I think. It’s a lot more impressionistic, which helps to blend the sections for the cohesion I’m after. A lot more yellow, yellow-green, and orange tones, for warmth and sunniness. I’m thinking most of what Joan had to say: “I would use paint so it would have the look of a wall that multiple posters have been ripped from and covered with more posters. I would soften some, completely paint over areas and leave some bright…”

I’ve darkened the S in RefUSe, and the outer edges of the second e–which seems to need a bit more darkening to be readable…Not that ReUS doesn’t have some merit as a message. It’s about “us” doing our part. And hopefully, this message won’t be interpreted as a plea for nationalism over globalism, cuz this citizen really doesn’t cotton to the America First slogan we keep hearing over and over…

OK, focus on your art, Eleanor. We’re not trying to be controversial this time. Honest.

Addressing, Redressing

Wednesday, January 25th, 2017

Composed. Meaning that I’ve put all the elements together for my latest work in progress, and the composition is complete. Brother — or should I say, Bernina, did I have a time quilting those bubbled, melted woven plastic pieces, which was a bag of beet pulp for horse feed (thank you Ms. Vola). See my last post, Bubble, Bubble, Melt & Muddle. Went through a lot of needles, needless to say. Packaging from other used products–coffee bags (thank you Emmetts and local coffee shop), tea bag envelopes (thank you Carl, Barb, Lesley, and Liz),  and foil enclosures for items like smoked salmon and Alka Seltzer tablets, constitute the rest of the surface. Oh, and I threw in some plastic mesh citrus bags.

Yep, this is part of my ReUse series, made from my stash of trash. A green quilt, to be sure. The text riffs on the word Reuse, as in recycle. Ref-use, meaning garbage. And Re: Use, referring to our use of dwindling resources. Maybe even Refuse — to be a user, a conspicuous consumer.

So here I am. Piece needs some work in straightening and finishing the edges.

Considering crossing some of those fuchsia dashes. More is more??

Nuh-uh. What this piece REALLY needs is what my sewing studio needs: some serious decluttering.

See, I’m not showing off. Or fishing for compliments. Quite the contrary, I’m at a hypercritical stage, and fairly desperate for ideas and direction.

Let me interject here that this piece answers a call for entering 32″ x 48″ textile posters from Studio Art Quilters Association (SAQA). So, much as I’d like to severely crop it–which would be in service to the art, that would be a big capitulation of this opportunity for exposure.

Trial by computer: I translate the image to black and white, to view the contrasts and overall composition in a simplified way. I also added a border, to represent a binding all around:

Which tells me that there is just too much variance of contrast–too much piecing, making it jumpy and jarring.

I’ve decided to use paint to reduce the patterning. Excited about using a brayer to capitalize on the bubbled and quilted textures, for an effect resembling crackling. With hopes that the paint doesn’t crack off or flake…Will I need a primer? A sealant? I’m thinking of a whitewashing effect. Not necessarily white, but swathes of a single shaded color to blend areas of random piecing. [Note to self: Next time, keep crazy quilt patchwork to blocks, to contain and restrain the craziness. And make me less crazy.]

I’m no wiz at photo-editing to preview how this might look, but I have an “add flash” feature to show how lightening the whole thing might look, and I’ve added a light green border to stand in for binding:

Better, I think. Paint will also cover up any exposed brand names or logos of companies whose legal departments have nothing better to do than threaten artists and exhibitors.

The good news is, with this shiny, plasticized surface, I can easily sponge off newly-applied paint that doesn’t do it for me.

Friends, when I say I welcome comments, that is an understatement. Very grateful to get your artistic perspective. What do you think I should do?

Y Inspiration

Wednesday, November 30th, 2016

Why inspiration?

Inspiration is food for the soul. And everyone has her own personal tastes in what appeals and satisfies.

We quilters go to guild meetings, quilt shows, and look at books and magazines for inspiration.

We art quilters are often inspired by the work of other quilters.

I confess, I am so NOT inspired by art quilts that are jaw-dropping stunning, and look like they took hundreds of hours. I gaze lovingly at those but they just make me want to “close up shop” and get back to guaranteed productivity like weeding and scouring bathrooms.

Nope, I’m inspired by work that simply charms. I feel very lucky when I find such a maker who teaches and thereby generously shares her ideas and techniques.

Like Deborah boscherteveningclimb-3Boschert. She hasn’t been quilting forever, but she’s constantly pursuing her craft, and yet her work never looks labored. Or overly complicated. It hits you where you live: in the worlds of nature and of small, domestic comforts. I so enjoy her website: http://deborahsstudio.com/.  There, you can sign up for her delicious newsletter, Three Bits of Inspiration. Additionally (a 4th bit?) I just ordered Deborah’s new book, Art Quilt Collage: A Creative Journey in Fabric, Paint & Stitch, which is sure to provide me with lots of inspiration, and as many at-home workshops as I sit down to do. Deborah uses trees, flowers, skies, circles, and ladders frequently in her work–all aspirational symbolism, right? She also returns frequently to those embroidered strokes she has called her beloved Ys.

 

As I traveled through Europe last month, I kept recalling her art quilts. Why do you think that is?

A very old building in Amsterdam, in the Netherlands.

A very old building in Amsterdam, in the Netherlands.

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Wind turbines in Jutland, in Denmark

I really don’t understand why the Y element resonates. Maybe it calls to mind Yearnings. Or, on the bright side, Yes, Yaaay, Yipee, Yummy, and Young-at heart. And I don’t really get just why a multiplicity of Ys, wisely positioned, add texture and balance so enchantingly.  But they do!

Under the influence, I found myself borrowing Deborah’s motif to the current work, a little quilt art postcard:

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Here’s the piece, called Middle Earth Mother, in a shadowbox frame, for a show called Understory, opening at the Da Vinci Art Alliance, in South Philly tomorrow.

Pssst— Here’s a link to my free how-to’s for mounting art quilt postcards.

Here’s my artist’s statement:

Fingerprint, X-ray, and strata–cutwork through quilted layers: we are in, of, and on the earth to do good.

Which brings me back to the why–and the importance of inspiration. Because it goes hand in hand with aspiration. The wish to be better, to do better, to create better. Yes? What inspires YOU? How does such inspiration transpire into your work? Do leave a comment before I expire!

 

Cut-Ups for Quilt-Art

Monday, August 22nd, 2016

Here’s one piece of fabric from the painting play-date I described last month:

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I hated the result. But that doesn’t mean certain areas didn’t have potential. I cut up sections I liked, and fused them to Peltex–thick interfacing. The kind I had featured fusible on both sides, but I only adhered to one side, protecting my ironing surface from the other side with a Teflon pressing sheet.

Then, I mined for gold: went through my scrap stash of mostly silks and silky fabrics for collage candidates in warm colors and light, medium, and dark accents. When I found a piece that played well with my painted background, I pressed fusible web to the back, and without measuring, I scissors-cut strips and rectangles. Auditioned some arrangements. Fused the scraps in place. Quilted to make the compositions more cohesive. Couched cord or chenille yarn around the edges for a finish.

Center-of-Gravity

               Center of Gravity, 13″x 7″

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Galactic Donuts, 6″x 4″

Those painted backgrounds are pretty well covered up, I confess. Can you find the areas of the painted fabric at the top that I used for each piece?

Painting Play-Date

Thursday, August 4th, 2016

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After winning, at a charity auction, a week at a large, lake-side house in Delaware, I invited a bunch of friends to come and play. On one of those mornings, three women answered the call to make art. I brought fabric, paints, brushes, a couple of brayers,  a Gelli art printing plate, and a mess of empty plastic containers, jars, and lids. I demo’ed what I’d learned about monoprinting:

Dab bits or globs of of acrylic paint on the Gelli plate, and roll it out with a brayer. Brush on dots or drag lines with the tip of the brush handle as the spirit moves you. Then, flip the plate onto fabric (I started with an orange print), and roll over it with a second, clean brayer.

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Lift it up, and see what you’ve got. Add more monoprints alongside or on top. Add dots and dashes and lines of paint.

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Below, check out part of another piece I belabored. I really wasn’t thrilled with anything I made. No matter! For me, this is just a start…I’ll cut up painted pieces for sections of an art quilt, or make art quilt postcards, adding other scraps, plus lots of decorative stitches.

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What really gets me jazzed is how my buddies, all monoprinting novices, absolutely, positively surpassed me in creating much more successful art pieces. And came up with techniques of their own that I never would have discovered.

Claire dared to use the same swirly-print fabric, but with a fun, folk-arty flair:

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This intuitive Alaskan also used the Gelli plate to pick up excess paint from her fabric, then turned the plate 90 degrees and rolled over the brayer to deposit perpendicular patterns. Claire shows off one side, then the other. Which do you like best?

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Meanwhile, Barbara of Bucks County, PA channeled Monet. I loved how she used clear plastic containers to alternate with the Gelli plate for monoprinting.

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Finally, Dr. Marjorie of Narberth, PA mainlined a thoroughly modern, expressionist vibe, a la Miro, or Braque:

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Again, we found that the paint that leaked onto the back of the fabric had a simpler, more compelling design. Serendipity goes a long way!

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Another Marjorie experiment with a fabric that already has a strong print.

 

 

 

 

 

Monoprinting can be fairly monotoned, but is never monotonous. Printing over and over with the underside of a clear plastic container leads to a powerful abstract statement.

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Many thanks to Miss Peggy, for taking over the photographing, given that our hands were full of paint!

Working with paints and various tools makes for lots of trading brushes and plastic lid paint palettes…and lots of mess. All the better to find a buddy or two or three to share the setting up, cleaning up, and fun. Can’t wait for the next play-date!

 

 

What’s new is Oldham, Todd Oldham

Tuesday, June 14th, 2016

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All of Everything refers to the many materials, styles and themes that Todd Oldham used to put into his fashion. It is the name of the show, the first major exhibition to focus on the exuberant style and playful aesthetic of Todd Oldham’s runway opus of the 1990s. I just saw it at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) Museum; it’s there until Sept. 11.

Some glimpses that us quilters will love…that is, IF you’re into All of Everything, and everything but the kitchen sink in your fashion!

Patchwork

Different types of fabrics and patterns in the coats above and below, and in the mock-up with glued wool that was photographed and used for a print.

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Patchwork with Woven Ribbons

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Embroidery

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Button Embellishment

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Beading, Quilting

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Knitting, Lacing, Surface Design, & Beading

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This last pièce de irresistance was the culmination of a class Oldham taught at RISD in 2014. Except for this collaboration, it has been 14 or 15 years since he’s designed fashion. In the years since, he’s been putting All of Everything into interior design, kid-crafts, and other follies for Target, Old Navy, La-Z-Boy, Escada, movies, and TV. Check out his home here!

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LOUD Conversation prints!–Love ’em!

Wednesday, June 1st, 2016

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Contemporary wax printed textiles stretched onto frames—I’m guessing 24″ x 36″— like art: as stunning as the fashions in the Creative Africa exhibit currently at the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s Perlman annex. Did you catch my blog post about that? you can look at it here.

The comments are really interesting, as comments always are! The print below, though it seems to belittle conversation and communication, nonetheless speaks to the way all us quilters silently express ourselves through cloth:

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Although most people think of them as African, the fabrics are designed by Dutch designers and made in the Netherlands by Vlisco. Still, they are inspired by African motifs and symbols, and made into clothing and worn mostly by Africans. Here’s a photo from the collection of African architect Francis Kéré, also shown in the PMA exhibit:

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Clearly, the fabric you wear is an important way of expressing who you are. And your position in society. Here, the reference is to bolts of fabric included in an African woman’s dowry.

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I naturally gravitated toward other motifs related to cutting and stitching:

 

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Symbols of upwardly mobile wealth, especially for women in the market and on the go, also take the forms of fancy shoes, wheels, and cars.

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On the grill of a luxury car, the Vlisco logo takes over for Mercedes Benz.

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Think those cracks in the side mirrors of a Mercedes refer to our warped perceptions of where we’ve come from, i.e., our humble beginnings? Or literally to the batik process of breaking up the wax painted on the fabric so dyes can seep into the cracks?

Another traffic-related print poses the question, are you heading towards love or money?

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Perhaps the most “out-there” fabric from 1953 features a traditional patchwork design around a sort of fertility mandala, shall I say? It’s named after an African proverb that translates to “children are better than money.”

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Stay tuned. My next post will show some distinctly African-made fabrics. In the meantime, how do YOU use conversation prints in your work?

Let It Flow

Saturday, October 24th, 2015

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Ahoy there, mateys! Just picking up from my posts of June 29 and July 1. Seems like I row row row my boat, get off of it, get back to it, and row some more. Isn’t that how everyone courses through their bigger projects?

Please excuse the metaphors, if they don’t float your boat. Always thinking of my son and his fiancee as they about halfway through their one-year trip sailing the Great American Loop, which you can read about on their blog, sailbatic.al.

To refresh everyone’s memory, including my own, the wind beneath my sails is a challenge from Quilts for Change, titled Water Is Life. See this post for info, and this post for my launch of the project.

The weavings came together, with lighter and darker sections cut in curves and overlapped, as shown above. Then, I added stream of consciousness phrases with free-motion script:

  • Justice
  • transparent governance
  • wellsprings of knowledge
  • flow of info
  • ponder policies
  • unclouded judgement
  • funding streams
  • wo/mandates
  • fathom the depths

After that, some dense quilting in wavy lines. Then appliques to lighten some areas, tone down others, add interest and contrast and texture.

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The finishing was a whole ‘nuther trip around the bend. One rust binding all around wasn’t enough, so that became an inset with a pieced binding.

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Still not enough. So I auditioned several different sizes and colors of rickrack. Aqua, white, yellow, blue and gold…

DSCN2893     white rickrack

Opted for a yellow green to add light to the whole. Or, as a mutiny against spending more time and angst over this piece. (I’m ready to set sail on a new project.)

Yes, after months, I have finally reached the shore and completed my art quilt today! And submitted images, a bio and a statement.

Title: Let It Flow

Water is a deeply complex issue, swirling with interwoven challenges of safety, security, social justice, and access.

Only transparently clear, progressive, democratic governance can ensure a good flow of information and funding streams.

As the traditional water gatherers who understand what is best for their communities, women deserve a place in discussions and decision-making. When mandates become “womandates,” results are life-affirming.

 

Done! And 9 days before the deadline: a record for this captain of last-minute industry. Making art and quilts is usually a lonely, isolated journey, so comments and constructive criticism are always very welcome! 

Let-It-Flow,ELevie – Version 2

 

Woven Water

Wednesday, July 1st, 2015

Getting right down to it. Here’s today’s progress:

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Warp laid out

 

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Plain weave—over one, under one, with the lighter values of fabric and ribbons

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Medium tones woven in a basketweave or twill pattern, passing over 2 strips and staggering the next

 

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Getting ready to weave the darker section.

What? Not looking like water? Will wash away intensity with sheer fabrics, and balance the angles with curvy quilting lines…That’s the plan, anyway. Not that I ever stick to a plan!